Before reaching parenthood, I knew exactly the type of mom that I would be. “I will never make the mistakes my mom made,” I thought, and “I will teach my kids this and that, while respecting their desires no matter how little they are”. Kids are kids, they say, and they are not equipped with the maturity, cognition, and experience required to make important decisions that are typically attributed to adults. I couldn’t agree more, but sometimes we take that thought to another level… Kids are kids, YES, but children are little human beings in formation. They are sponges that absorb everything we teach through our expressions, actions, inactions, and interactions. They may not be ready to determine what house to buy, but they ARE capable of participating in important family decisions. And that, moms and dads, is what prepares them for the big people world. Kids can participate in daily life choices and provide important insight to us, know-it-all parents. How much we include them in our family matters may give them a sense of empowerment. It is in their little society called “family” that kids learn the process of decision-making that will prepare them for the big society later on. How much we validate (or not!) their perspectives, and whether we consider or disregard them, will impact their confidence in making future life choices.
Now, does this mean we are going to let our little roommates (and slave masters!) dictate all of our family decisions? Absolutely not! In fact, the dilemma lies in that fine line that divides what’s merely an adult matter and what can include our children’s opinion. That line is different for everyone. We are all unique individuals that come from diverse cultures, experiences, and value systems. Those shape our parenting and affect how much say we give our children in certain decisions. In my house, for example, our kids eat what we give them and it is a must to love and respect their siblings. However, I know of many other homes in which parents cook a different meal for each picky eater and it is “normal” for siblings to not get along. I am very lenient for some things that other parents are extremely strict about, and vice versa. Am I a better or worse parent than those?
One thing I know for sure: I was the BEST MOM in the world UNTIL the day before my first child was born. As a childless psychotherapist, it was so easy and clear to me what my parent clients ought to do… I also knew without a doubt what my mom and dad should’ve done different and where my friends’ parents were failing. I judged moms that did things differently to what I thought was right. And then I became a mother… (no comments)
It is easy to be a parent ONLY when it’s NOT your own child in question. But when it is your daughter or son you’re talking about, you are doomed to mess up at some point and be judged by others that think they know what’s best for your family. I’ve come to realize that parents are expected to be perfect despite their imperfect human nature. YES, we are destined to fail at some point, but we have a gift that allows us to do the best we can, even within our limitations. We are co-creators with God and we are full of His grace. This empowers us with the capacity to care for our children with infinite and unconditional LOVE. When love is the drive of our decision-making concerning our descendants, we canNOT fail. We go through the process of studying the situation, examining the different options, evaluating the underlying values, foreseeing possible risks, AND praying for guidance. If the choice made was a result of having gone through these steps and feeling the Peace that represents God’s support, you made the right decision. The outcome is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether it propelled the consequence you anticipated or not. Do NOT question yourself after the fact. Do NOT blame yourself when things didn’t turn out the way you expected. There is something to be learned from every experience we (and our little ones!) undergo. Maybe the unexpected result was a necessary lesson. Do NOT worry about what other people tell you they would’ve done to get alternative outcomes. If God wanted you to do that, He would’ve put those people in your way before you made the decision. There will always be judgment and other “right” ways of going about the same situation. But what’s right for your friend and his/her family is not necessarily what’s ideal for yours. Other people have different goals in mind when raising their children. NOBODY can know more about what’s good for your children than YOURSELF (in partnership with the Man Upstairs). Not even your therapist! (And I am one of those, remember?!)
In summary, know that although you’re not perfect, you are the closest being to perfection when it comes to parenting your child. You are full of God’s grace, which are those blessings and goodness that emanate from His love. He too is a parent, you know? He also makes decisions when it comes to us and, if you ask me, He does a pretty good job at it. At times I think He is CRAZY and I just can’t understand why He made certain decisions. There are moments further down the road in which I realize why those “crazy” choices were the best for me. Other times, the answer never comes to me, so I CHOOSE to TRUST my Father. Do the same with your child. Earn his/her trust. One day it may all come together and your child will be glad your decisions contributed to forming the person he’s/she’s become.
God –AND OUR CHILDREN- can see through our hearts. If they are convinced that you love them “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27), your decisions concerning them will always be PERFECT. Because in the end, perfection must lie in your intention, rather than the outcome. Do the best you can and your children will receive the best they could. They will also learn through your example how to make decisions when it’s their turn to be moms and dads.
I MAY NOT BE PERFECT, BUT WHEN I LOOK AT MY CHILDREN, I KNOW THAT I GOT SOMETHING IN MY LIFE PERFECTLY RIGHT -Unknown