Friday, September 11, 2009

Trials in mothering

I read several parenting books this summer. I found them all helpful, but especially this one: Instead of telling me how to raise a generic child, this enabled me to actually UNDERSTAND myself and my child, and parent him accordingly. I highly recommend it!

Sadly though, it's just really difficult to be a good parent. And it's tremendously challenging to be a good, gentle parent. It's not easy to love someone who hurts and angers you, and your child can do this in a way few others can. When I read the book I just recommended to you, it altered my parenting, and Sam's behavior improved dramatically! Until this week. This week, Sam discovered true temper tantrums. He's always had fits when he was overstimulated, but these are entirely different. In my panic, frustration, and exhaustion, I have been anything but gentle. I have been an angry, inconsistent, and harsh parent. My sinful responses to Sam have caused us both much grief.

Last night, I was at my breaking point. I called my mother in law, begging for advice. I'm so thankful for her gentle reminders. She raised 4 boys, and thus endured 4 years of "terrible two's"! She gave me a few ideas of things I could try. But most importantly, she reminded me (once again) that he is a little person. And as such, a sinner in need of grace, just like his mama. This conversation made me realize that when Sam's behavior is getting worse, he needs me to 1) show him lots of tenderness and grace wherever possible and 2) be faithful to punish him consistently for real wrongs. My mother in law also told me that I was a great mom. I didn't feel deserving of her praise, but I was a whole lot happier and more motivated this morning. And so far Sam is responding beautifully to these changes. I think her example of "gentle parenting" toward ME (constructive criticism accompanied by kind words of affirmation) really drove the point home. The human heart craves gentle parenting. It did mine a world of good! I'll keep striving to be this kind of parent for Sam...