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Friday, May 8, 2015

Parenting: Where's the Balance?

Photo courtesy of: imagerymajestic,

If you follow my blog, you know I’m a reader. I enjoy reading various points of view and many different approaches to problems. Some of the mommy blogs are the most entertaining. “Fifteen ways to help your toddler eat his veggies,” “How to potty train in one day—guaranteed,” “The perfect protection for Junior’s in-line skating,” “Why it’s easy to clean my house, even with six children,” and the posts go on and on and on. (I made up these titles, but they’re similar to some I’ve read.)

There’s a “right way” to do everything, an “easy way” to parenting success.

These posts are accompanied by photos of perfectly clean little angels with happy smiles on their faces. Even if the post is about finger painting, the only mess is on the paper.

Some moms actually arrange colorful food to make pictures on their kids’ plates. (I thought only Michelin-starred restaurants did that!)

I marvel and shake my head.

I cut the authors some slack, because from time to time I read a tip that makes me pause and say to myself, why didn’t I think of that? Sometimes their ideas are excellent and biblical. (I appreciate any mommy who finds the time to blog, and I still don’t understand how they do it. Do they never sleep?)

When my two rambunctious little ones—notice I didn’t call them angels—were growing up, we had tons of messes, many needs for paper stitches and Band-Aids, and even melt-downs in public places. They needed love and correction.

We sometimes aced the parenting test, but not often. I rarely took pictures of angelic-looking, genuinely smiling faces.

Years later, I read the how tos and wherefores and how easy it’s all supposed to be, and I’m thankful my kids are grown. (Now, they can enjoy these “easy” times with their own children.) Whew!

Listen, folks, parenting is hard work. No one in his right mind thinks otherwise. The parenting magazine and the mommy blogosphere don’t (usually) represent reality.

On the other hand, parenting is natural. It doesn’t have to be manufactured and programmed. It can just happen.

Good parenting is somewhere in the middle. It’s somewhere between hovering moms who micromanage every single minute and make sure their kids are so protected they’re not allowed to run across a field and the moms who don’t bother to teach, correct, and direct.

I look back to my own parents in the 1960-70s. They rarely seemed to stress about us. We had lots of time to play in the back yard and roam the hills around our grandfather’s home in the country. We were allowed to play, bike, run, and have many unique experiences. Our family camped and hiked together. We always had lots of friends. We didn’t do many private lessons or organized team things. Most of our amusements were in the context of family or with neighbors and friends.

I don’t think we missed a thing!

My dad was the manners teacher, and my mother taught us to be kind, share, and much more. My dad showed us how to treat animals, and my mother patched us up when we fell and sent us back out to play.

Both our parents regularly read aloud to us. They planned wonderful vacations and helped us to visit most of the forty-eight contiguous states. My parents had friends from many foreign countries and ethnic groups. We were, therefore, exposed to a variety of interesting people. My parents took us out to restaurants and to concerts and films. They encouraged our gifts and interests. Their parenting was intentional, but they let it flow.

The “Baby Boom” parents thought it was normal to have kids. They thought parenting was a part of the average married life. They were relaxed about it and let it happen. They taught morals and right and wrong. They took us to church. They gave us lots of love.

Today, young parents read all kinds of “right ways” to do everything. They spazz out if Junior doesn’t respond as programmed. They sign their kids up for classes and teams and stimulating experiences, all the while playing Baby Einstein on the television at home.

I’m not necessarily against these things, but I believe maybe parenting would be better if it were more relaxed and in-family. Let siblings run around and invent their play. Give them freedom as well as protection. After all, people have been parenting since Adam and Eve!

Do you need help with your parenting? There’s a lot of help in the Bible. Read through Proverbs. Look up “my son” and “daughters” in the Bible. I believe that God gives us good ideas how to consistently parent while giving us the freedom to make our family unique and fun.

(In my book, His Ways, Your Walk, there’s a list of all the parenting verses in Proverbs and a whole chapter on parenting. Order your copy today!)

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