Progression of Parenting

Since becoming a mother, I cannot believe that time has passed so quickly.  When I was a teenager and I heard adults say, “Time flies so fast,” or “Kids grow up too quickly,” I thought it was pretty cliché.  I felt like time was moving at a snail’s pace and I wasn’t going anywhere fast.  But now that I am a parent, I feel like I blink and the kids age a year or two.  I thought I just had a kindergartener a few months ago and now he’ll be twelve this spring!

When I look back over the past twelve years, I smile at how my parenting has changed.  Perhaps yours has evolved as well.  Some of you reading this have been with me since the beginning, through the births of more babies (both yours and mine) and their growing up to be the big kids they are now.

When they were babies, the biggest issues were figuring out what my baby needed – food, nap, snuggling.  And about the time I figured what all those cries meant, their needs changed.  Next they needed to explore their world, be stimulated by developmental toys and books, but still snuggled.  And this toddler age was when we started incorporating discipline.  Granted, it is mostly for their own safety.  No opening the front door.  Don’t play outside alone.  And usually, even though corrections could induce temper tantrums, they were not lengthy and soon forgotten, like the flick of a switch.  As speech developed, so too did their little personalities.  They became independent thinkers, able to choose between an apple and carrots for their snack.  They had things that they liked and things they didn’t.  Now the rules were placed to help them learn their place in society.  We don’t hurt others.  We always tell the truth.  We don’t take things that don’t belong to us.  The punishments may have involved taking away a favorite toy or sitting in the corner for a while, but snuggling afterward.hugging

School came upon us like a storm and now our roles as parents shift a little bit.  We become educators as much as we are support staff – supplying needs, assisting with homework, cheering them on as they try new activities, friendships, and characteristics.  We also find at this age that they begin to push back – sometimes hard!  They are trying to figure out how they fit into their world.  Homework and activities can overwhelm them, friendships can fade or strengthen without cause, and as their little bodies grow, new hormones shoot through them affecting and changing their childhood chemistry.  And the result in our lives can be belligerent, frustrating, yet loving and sweet tweens.  But they still throw tantrums in their own way – my 11-year son was so overwhelmed by algebra homework, a science project and band obligations that he broke down into tears this week.  Lashing out at his sisters, he just wasn’t sure how to handle it all.  My only solution was a snuggle.

My oldest daughter, now 9 years old, frustrated with difficulties at school and stressed about homework and upset that she wasn’t getting the immediate attention she wanted, popped off and screamed, “I hate you….” In nearly the next breath, she was crying that she didn’t mean it and to please forgive her.     At that moment, I didn’t necessarily want to, after she had pushed all my buttons, but I gave her a snuggle too.

All that we do to guide our children from safety and societal rules to helping them find their place in their own little world, praying for them each day, and demonstrating to them how God wants us to live is the only way that I have figured out how to parent – for now.  Who knows what their needs will bring tomorrow?!  Maybe another snuggle?

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