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Love and Parenting: Do not live a child centered life

“Few things in this world are as important as raising children. In every age, every era, every time and place, children are our treasures, our future, our immortality—the vital link in the chain of humanity.”

-William Martin

 

I love being a mother.  The role of mother has been one of the most exhilarating, challenging, meaningful and profound experiences of my life. I view parenting as a lifelong commitment, not a race to get to 18 so I can get my life back. I pray that I’m the kind of mother who never withholds hard truth when they need to hear it or love when they need to feel it. I also pray that I never find my identity in the success of my adult children. 

 

I am not just a mother. I am Heather. I am a child of God, a wife, a friend, a daughter, and a woman. If I raise my children in a home that shifts and bends to their emotional needs and whims, then I am teaching my children that the world revolves around them.  This would be a handicap to my children in their adult lives because the world does not, nor will it ever revolve around any of us. 

 

I agree with the above quote, and I tell my children that they are my treasure. I am committed to them, and I will fight for them even if that means at times fighting against them. How do we raise children without the entanglement of co-dependency, the confusion of self-centeredness or the fear of them leaving the nest? I could probably write a book on this topic, and there probably are already books on this topic.  However, for today, I am just going to highlight a few of what I think are the most important ways to avoid having a child-centered home. 


1.      We seek God first. Our home is not child centered, nor is it parent centered. 

2.     Mom and Dad prioritize our time, and apart from a special event, do not give up our time together for our children. We still want to have a good relationship after our kids have gone. 

3.     Mom and Dad do not lie to each other for our children or about them. We will give them a safe place to speak, but they will not use us against each other.

4.     They are allowed one sport or activity per season. They are not allowed to do all the things.  Dominic and I are responsible for building a life that will bless our children after we are gone. If all our free time is given to the children’s hobbies, when will we build a legacy to leave them?

5.     We do not allow them to mistreat each other or us. Who will they find to put up with their bad behavior when they leave?

6.     We expect them to respect authority and do not shield them from consequences of their mistakes. 

7.     We do not end a conversation to pay attention to their interruption…. again, except for an emergency. 

8.     Say no to them. Children do not need to get everything they ask for. They need to be grateful for the things they have and need to learn to be happy without constant dopamine hits from something new.

9.     We apologize to them when we are wrong. They are watching humility in action, so they grow up with the understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around adults either. 

10.   Our happiness is not contingent on theirs. OOph! This is a hard one for me. I FEEL their broken hearts and frustrations. I must remind myself that I still have a husband, other children, and responsibilities outside of them. 

11.    I am not the maid and Dad is not the butler.  We take care of them and enjoy it, but they have areas that they are still responsible for.

12.   They are required to work outside the home when they are old enough. You cannot appreciate the money you ask for, until you understand that money is what you get in exchange for your time. 


If I am being completely honest, I probably lean more towards the tendency to be child centered. I missed out on a lot of things in my childhood, and I want them to have the full spectrum of childhood experiences. I did not become a mother to live vicariously through my children and I am not raising children to stay children forever. My husband and I are raising men and women who are part of the story of the world, and they have a job to do. They need to execute their gifts and callings with confidence and precision because someone in the world will need them to show up and do their part. I want them to have the joy and fulfillment of living well and that doesn’t come from living for self. 


“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” -Maya Angelou

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Excellent article. Heather!

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