Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LOL/LOL: Never

"When I'm a parent I'll NEVER…"

Ha. Before I became a parent, I had a whole list of things that good moms do or don't do. It went something like this. Good moms
  • Don't discipline their children in public
  • Do breastfeed
  • Don't co-sleep
  • Do let their kids cry it out
  • Don't homeschool
  • Don't stress too much about what their kids eat
  • Don't let their kids watch too much TV
  • Don't overschedule their kids, both in terms of activities and in terms of an actual day-to-day scchedule
  • Do have well-behaved children

Then I had a baby. And while some of my list remained untouched, others were added/removed/adjusted as necessary. I believed that good moms
  • Don't discipline their kids in public
  • Do breastfeed (even though I didn't)
  • Don't co-sleep… you know, as a rule… but it's entirely different if you've been up with a fussy baby all night and just need to lay down with her in your bed so you can get some sleep…
  • Don't let their babies cry it out
  • Don't homeschool
  • Do worry about every single bite of food that goes into their children's mouths
  • Don't let their kids watch any TV
  • Do keep a consisstent routine, including regular (one-hour or more) naps and an early bedtime
  • Do get their kids involved in every activity possible
  • Do have well-behaved children

This list of requirements for being a good mom led me to be very judgmental, both of others and of myself. And as time went on, the list evolved based on what did or didn't work for me. But it was continually challenged—parents I knew who didn't follow my "rules" still had good kids, others who had similar philosophies had kids who were atrocious, and still others did some of the things on my list but not others… Even I didn't always stick to my list, or didn't see the results I expected when I did follow it. It was hard to decide where to cut some slack and where to stand firm.

And then it hit me: Why does there have to be a list and who am I to think that I get to write it?

I can't say that is has been easy, but I'm learning to let go of the list. I have disciplined my kids in public. I breastfed each of my children for a brief period, followed by a much longer period of formula-feeding. I understand why some moms homeschool and have briefly entertained the idea of doing it myself. And sometimes you can do all of the "right" things and your children can still be little monsters, and it doesn't have to be a direct reflection on your parenting.

So now I'm working on a new list. It goes something like this: I will
  • Never stop loving my children
  • Always forgive them
  • Always remember that they are God's first, mine second
  • Always do the best that I can to raise them as God intends
  • Try to let other moms parent the way that is right for them without judgment

It's not always easy, but I'm learning to extend some grace to myself and others.  And that seems to be the best rule I've found--for parenting and for life!

And of course, you can check out Jamey's take on this same topic at Zehlahlum Family. And please play along! Post in the comments (or on your blog and leave a link in the comments) something that you thought you would never do as a parent—and let us know if you have stuck to it.

LOL/LOL stands for Lots of Littles/Lots of Laughs. It is a blog series by moms who are overrun by small children have 3 or more little kiddos, talking about parenting & marriage.

1 comment:

Jamey... said...

Katy, this was a great post!! I love how you actually made a point about differing parenting styles and what's actually important.