waves of uncertainty

Do you ever worry that you’re messing your kids up for life?  You do?  All the time?  Oh, good–then I’m not alone.

Parenting, I feel, is a tenuous balancing act: loving a child where they’re at while encouraging them to continue growing.  Finding areas where growth is necessary is easy; finding the balance between loving and leading is the tough part of this neverending task.

My three-year-old is a shouter.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a youngest and he had to be loud to get my attention as a tot, or if it’s just something in his genes.  He’s also strong-willed, temperamental, and the world’s pickiest eater.  How do I choose my battles?  (And how do I stay consistent when it is absolutely exhausting to say, “No, we don’t shout at people.  How can you say that nicely?” three hundred fifty gazillion times a day.)

My five-year-old is a pest.  She can be sweet and generous, but she often prefers to push her brothers’ buttons, test any boundaries I set, and feign ignorance when confronted with her poor choices.  She’s also a “box-checker”, enjoying the feeling of having completed something no matter how poorly it was done–no matter whether the task is one she chooses and enjoys or one she is assigned.  Scribbled a stick figure?  Picture done.  Ran the rag over one corner of the table?  Table wiped.

My six-year-old is the king of excuses and cluelessness.  He’s never at fault for anything that goes wrong (“I can’t help it that he walked past when I was swinging that truck around in the living room!”), he always has a reason why he can’t do as you ask, and his absentminded craziness is enough to drive anyone insane.  (Me: “For the third time, would you QUIT threading pepperoni on your fingers and just EAT YOUR PIZZA!”  Peatie: [looking surprisedly at his fingers] “Huh?”)

The other problem with this balancing act is that it’s never-ending.  If we’ve finally found a way to help our children gain ground on one of their weak points, another ugly habit rears its head.  We move from phases of tantrums to back-talk, public muteness to public rudeness, picky eating to disgusting eating.  Anyone?  And I wonder, “What have I done wrong?  Are my children always going to move from one poor behavior to the next?  Will they ever turn out to be capable, responsible, compassionate adults?”  What’s a parent to do?

No answers this time.  I just pray hard and try to get to bed earlier so I have more patience.  (Not that it’s working so well…)

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One thought on “waves of uncertainty

  1. I hear ya Sheri. I can barely keep up saying ‘no hitting’ nicely 10,000 times a day.

    I think it’s good though that we’re aware of these faults in our kids. Some people refuse to see them, and I think in admitting it, we’re already a step ahead of improving.

    As for your daughter who does things haphazardly, I found a great trick for that one. Focus on the actual effort instead of the end result. Works with my kiddos. So instead of applauding it when it’s done, applaud how hard she’s working at it. And if she does a stick figure or a quick wipe, it’s totally okay to be like, “What’s that? That’s not done.” 🙂

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