“I will never be like my parents.” “I will not be the type of mother/father that I had.” “I will not treat my kids how my parents treated me.” “I will NOT do _____ like my parents did.”
Have you ever thought or said something like that? So many of us have. And then so many of us become parents, and all of a sudden you are responding to your kids and think… oh my goodness, I am my mother/father. Why is that? Especially if we have spent time thinking about how we DON’T want it to happen.
If you aren’t intentional about getting different tools for parenting than what you inherited from your parents, then you won’t get new tools.
This isn’t something that happens by chance. You don’t just grow up and become the worlds best parent, with the best tools to create successful, kind, smart, secure, confident, caring individuals without TRYING to do that. This is something that takes time, and effort, and energy.
I have wonderful parents that I love with my whole heart. I wholeheartedly believe that my parents did the best they could, with the tools they had. They took what was passed down to them, and did better than what they were given. I want to do that too. I want to take the tools I was given, get rid of the ones that aren’t healthy, and get better ones.
Wanting to do that is great. It is the start. It is what you do with that desire that counts though. What are you doing to get new tools? What are you doing to be a better parent? I don’t mean ensuring you are the total opposite of your parents. Maybe you grew up with parents who weren’t compassionate or caring, so you coddle your kids to ensure they don’t experience the pain of having parents who didn’t seem to care. Maybe you had parents who weren’t able to get you anything, so you make sure your kids have every little thing they could ever possibly want. Maybe your parents had no rules at all and you got into a lot of trouble, so you have every possible rule you could have. This isn’t necessarily intentionally becoming a better parent, this is a response out of anger or fear or pain. We were hurt by how our parents raised us and out of the bitterness or fear that we are going to do the same for our kids, we do the polar opposite…only that isn’t always any more healthy.
So what are you doing to ensure you are intentionally becoming the best parent you possibly can be? I read so many parenting books. Some people have scoffed at me for doing that. “All you need to do is love your children, that is enough.” Love goes a long way, that is true. But if you aren’t intentionally doing the best you can do, what could you be missing? Sometimes we don’t see the unhealthy parenting tools we may have until we are talking with others, reading a book, at some sort of parenting conference of sorts. So, regardless of the fact that I have been scoffed for it, I read and re-read all sorts of parenting books. I have gained so much knowledge and understanding by doing this. I still have a hard time remembering to implement the new tools I am trying to learn and use, but I am trying. And I have to keep trying, and re-try, and start over, and apologize, and repent…. daily.
As I have been re-reading “Loving Our Kids On Purpose” and attending the class at my church, I have been praying about how to really take to heart what I am trying to learn. And that is when I felt God tell me that unless I intentionally try to get new tools and intentionally practice using those tools, I will be parenting with the tools passed down to me from my parents.
Parenting is SO HARD. We don’t have an easy job, but we do have the most important job. We have been tasked with raising these little humans into adults that can successfully manage themselves and their lives. Give yourself grace when you mess up, like I said, I mess up daily. Those mess ups are not going to be what shapes your children if you are living in a way to intentionally be the best parent you possibly can be.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
*I am not saying that reading parenting books is the only way to ensure you are intentionally working towards being the best parent. Nor am I saying I have this all figured out. 🙂