How We Honestly Mess Up Our Kids

{A quick note: When I decided I was going to write on this subject, I chose its title, carefully…there is a reason for the word honestly: it is something we do with the best of parenting intentions. But at the end of the day, as good as the intentions, the results are still the same.}

designIf I ever thought I had this parenting thing down, I became one and suddenly all the awesome advice I had in my head became text book answers no one on the front lines doing it really appreciated, including me.

It’s tough to be a parent.

The baby stage started incredible – with its amazing feels and smells and just the simple euphoria of finally being that mom-person I always wished to be. But after many sleepless nights, a diagnosis of acid reflux, at least 3 vacuum cleaners I burned up to help my little person go to sleep, I came back to earth and realized: this is hard.

On the heels of that was the toddler thing – the terrible 2’s and 3’s (which turn into 4’s, 5’s, and 6’s if we don’t play our cards well) that left me wondering if God meant for my husband and I to procreate and if I would ever have kids that were polite to adults even when they didn’t offer them a sucker. Cute days, with the words they couldn’t pronounce and slobbery kisses and chubby, dirt-caked hands. But hard days, too.

And then I got teenagers. And the days before didn’t seem quite as hard and things suddenly became real, so real, that kind of real that you panic over only a few years left and what kind of people have I really helped them be?

{In some ways, that verdict is still out and while I am sure of some things now I am less sure of others and one thing I would never claim is to be some kind of expert.}

But I realize anew, talking recently with a friend with smaller kids than mine, that we will all mess up our kids to some degree and maybe the best we can do is mess them up the least we can.

Which will take strategy. And prayer (tons). And the understanding that our fears are what often keep our kids from thriving. And that’s something we would never want to do, but we do it because if we’re honest we’ll admit that we spend a lot of time parenting by our reactions.

We fear the bully, the scraped knee, them being different or not having enough or having to work when they aren’t feeling well or what if my kid is left out and they notice and it hurts?

And we react to such things by trying to stifle their exposure. (which doesn’t, by the way, mean we lose our minds and expose them to things that are harmful or sinful just so we become their friend or help them experience things under our “control” which is hugely ignorant and abusive.)

But it’s that place where our fear takes over and we react instead of prepare and don’t see that the truth is we honestly mess up our kids when we expose them to nothing. And they grow up, into people who are called adults who know nothing…

~of problem solving because they never had to come to the point where a crucial decision was made by them without us.

~of overcoming lack because they weren’t ever exposed to needing one single thing.

~of people skills because they were only put in situations where they interacted with compatible, familiar people rather than people they had to get along with or figure out.

The good parents we are, we have told them their whole life to pray and yet not let them see their own need of it because we’ve managed it all in our hands and taken His business away from Him.

And please hear me, I get it. It’s an unspoken goal of us parental all: to keep our children in a constant state of safe and comfortable and happy, which all sounds really great until they are about to leave the home, sprout wings and fly away into a world they are not at all prepared to function in. photo

Some of the greatest things our kids can learn while they are still on our watch is how to be flexible, how to see the world as something they can, with the help of God, conquer, how to be without and it be ok and even in many ways, good.

Let’s stop being so afraid we will mess them up lest we honestly mess them up in the process.


*SUPER EXCITING: Because I love this author, Kathi Lipp, and think her new book “i need some help here! hope for when your kids don’t go according to plan” is amazing and right up the alley of this post, I’m giving 2 FREE COPIES away!  All you have to do to win one: Leave a comment…YOUR thoughts…about parenting…something in this post. You don’t have to agree with me, by the way. You could still win, just for sharing. ;) 

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