Jeff and I are blessed to have 4 healthy, energetic children. We realize more than ever though how different and unique our children are from one another.
We are imperfect parents but we have been complimented for having fun, well adjusted kids. We are more than willing to offer some tips of things that we have learned along the way. I hope you can take something productive from this lesson.
Encourage your child’s unique design.
Rebecca (13) is a loyal, strong leader. And she is hilarious.
Rebecca consistently bugs us at 9:30 at night when the other kids are asleep. She tries to get us to laugh. At first, Jeff and I would dismiss her and tell her to go to bed. We were exhausted at that time. Later we were convicted that this was her really reaching out to us when she didn’t have anyone else to compete with.
Jeff and I have made a concerted effort to laugh and joke with her and now often we find her climbing in our bed, laughing, and then telling us what is going on in her 13 year old life. What a blessing this time is now for us as parents. We realize how much we would be missing out if we had stuck to our original plan to ensure all the kids were in bed at the same time.
Sometimes parenting books are merely guidelines, and you need to do what fits your family and child best.
Ben (10) is athletic, has tremendous spiritual depth, and has the ability to have great focus.
Ben was born with a golf club in his hand. We actually had to hide his club at 18 months because he could hit the ball over our 10 foot back wall and hit a car. Yes, I said 18 months. Ridiculous. He can name you every sports statistic related to baseball, football, and basketball. When it comes to school, he chooses when he wants to focus. For quite some time, our vocabulary was “Ben, why aren’t you focusing in school? Why are you not paying attention?” And in our most frustrating moments as parents, we told him that he was unable to focus.
Note: If you tell your children that they lack the ability to focus (or another trait), they will live up to it. Tell your children how they are made and they will eventually live up to it.
So Jeff and I totally changed our verbage. We told him everyday about how God made him to be a man with great focus. We prayed with him and didn’t allow him to get out of the car in the morning before school without reminding him of how he is a young man of such great focus. We have spent an enormous amount of time encouraging him. The emails from his teacher stopped and now we get, “Ben had a great day!” messages in his planner. His self confidence has increased exponentially since we employed our tactic of encouragement.
Emily (9) is independent, free spirited, and really fun to be around.
She is a voracious reader, great writer, and excels at swimming. But she is often praised for her performances at school and swimming, so we have changed our dialogue. Instead of focusing on the performance, we try to convey that we love her no matter how she performs. The dialogue now goes something like this: “We love you Emily for how loving you are to your sister. You have a beautiful, caring heart. You are such a fun person to be around. We love watching you swim.” We take out as much of the performance-based praise as we can. It’s been a learning process for Jeff and I since we were both competitive swimmers and Jeff a professional golfer. Performance praise can be a dangerous trap for parents of athletes.
Samantha (2) is curious and loves to learn how things work. She loves her children’s choir at church.
Samantha wants our time and full focus. She is happiest to be putting puzzles together or working in her sticker book while singing her bible songs. She could play for hours. With being the youngest child and coming to a lot of swimming and baseball games for her older siblings, we have to make sure we allow her experiences to just play, be curious, and learn about the world around her. She’s so cool. Lucky for her we have learned from a lot of our mistakes with the other kids and have been better about letting her develop as a little person without discouraging her from being who she is.
Blessings sweet friends – JennyTweet