There are very few jobs where you can just wing it day-by-day. If I were to do that at my job, (make it up as I went along) I’d be calling a lot of patients back for repeat studies, additional radiation (and TRUST me, we get grilled on CT radiation dose many times a week due to all the media reports in the last couple of years) angry doctors on the referring end as well as the reviewing end (i.e. my bosses). I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t last a week, much less a day or two depending on which bosses I was working with that day. With 4 kiddos to feed, clothe and entertain (to some degree) and a husband just getting his feet back on the ground after release from prison, this really wouldn’t work so well for our family. So, it brings me to wonder, how in the WORLD we are qualified to be parents, and how in the WORLD does this even work!?!?!?
We make a good team, hubby and I, we balance each other out in the parenting department (as well as other departments). Over the last several years, we have co-parented to the best of our abilities with our “situation”. I’ve read a TON of books, picked friend’s brains, prayed and agonized over decisions and though I am definitely still “winging it daily”, it comes down to some pretty basic principles.
1. Do all things in LOVE.
Whether its doing the fifth load of laundry in two days, cooking dinner, helping out with Algebra, spelling tests, reading buddies and a Science project simultaneously for four different grade levels, teaching the benefits of good hygiene, the importance of not slugging your brother “just because” or doling out consequences for poor choices, there is a good way and a not so good way. Parenting out of frustration, exasperation, fear, fatigue or selfishness is just not going to work, plain and simple. There’s a lot of backtracking to clean up the debris (and I’ve done it!) and tons of confusion on the kid’s part, as in “what in the world do you expect of me?”; it’s basically back to square ONE! However, when dealt with in love, love brings clarity, provides security, is honest, is patient and brings consistent peace to the heart….even when that heart is plugging it’s ears, stomping it’s feet and slamming doors, it still squeezes in…kind of like a hamster, those buggers can get in ANYwhere!!
1 Corinthians 13:4
2. Be consistent.
Boy. This is my downfall. I have really good intentions (and you know what they say about the road paved by good intentions….) however, life and my wishy-washy, need-to-please character seem to weasel their way in and muddy up my sticking power. This is where hubby is a good balance in our parenting. He is a Type-A, “say what you mean and mean what you say” kind of guy. I envy him. He (at least on the surface) keeps his emotions out of it; he lays out the blueprint of expectations and ramifications (if necessary) and stands back. Now since the kids have had me on a 24/7 basis and Daddi-O encouraging from the sidelines these past years, it’s been a bit of “culture shock” as we all adapt to this consistency. We present a united front on parenting, which is GREAT, because the kids know I have an ally, someone who is there to encourage ME to follow through and get on the “mean-what-you-say-say-what-you-mean” train. Though there have been some mutinous reactions, after four months they are coming around. And so am I. The one thing I am trying to work on is to use the “We” in directions and not the “dad”….trying to avoid the finger-pointing and copping out. It’s been tough. But we are getting there.
Since there is no manual. Since this is an improvisational job. In my morning quiet time I hand it over to God. These are HIS children. For however long He deems them to be here on earth, He has given them to us to raise up as responsible, kind, loving, sharing people. To spread His love and message through words and actions. We are called to lay the foundation. That is where prayer comes in. Pray that they hear His message. Pray that they feel loved by us. Pray that they will follow that still, quiet voice among the noise and temptations of the world. Pray for their protection. Pray for wisdom. Pray for guidance. It’s pretty clear why St. Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. We can’t be there 24/7 no matter how hard we try. He can. He is. He always has. He always will be.
Love. Consistency. Prayer. All else will fall into place. And if it doesn’t……revert to #3, again and again and again