Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Received, Ever, That I Haven't Found in a Book (Yet)

VBS: Vacation Bible School, otherwise known as Very Busy Season. As you can probably tell from the plethora of silly pictures and videos on Facebook, Blake and I, along with three awesome girls from the youth group, were in charge of music for Vacation Bible School this year. We did the music for the worship rally, Blake and I did a skit for the worship rally every day, and we taught all of the kids the motions to the songs all week. Also, because Falls Creek was cancelled for week four, there was a church out at Jacob's Ladder who needed worship leaders for their evening devotion, so we did that as well. When we got home from the VBS family night tonight, our entire family was wiped. We all agreed that we didn't care what we did this evening as long as it didn't involve moving. So, movies and blogging it was.

When we got home this afternoon from the last morning of VBS, Blake--voiceless and exhausted--walked into the door and looked around our house and said, "Our house looks awful."
"Well, we haven't been home to clean it, really."
"I know."
"Do you want to take a shower while I make lunch for everybody?"
"Yes. Then after you make lunch I'm going to clean."
" would rather clean then nap?"
He then proceeded to spend three hours cleaning, and I got to take an hour and a half nap. Ladies, this is the  kind of man you should be holding out for, okay? Don't worry, though, Blake still got to take a nap.

A pretty accurate picture of what most of Blake's week looked like.

I am still thinking through what my next blog post regarding our guys and life at the ranch is going to look like, not because our guys have been difficult or anything, but because summer is just a whole different beast from the school year. However, I still want to keep writing consistently, and being surrounded by children and teenagers all week has made me think about parenting almost constantly. I've had several people ask me questions about what parenting teenagers is like at my age, and if it affects how I parent Adeline. First of all, let me stop you there for a second. Parenting is parenting. Sure, there are different nuances that come into play with different ages, but if I try to segregate parenting our guys and parenting Adeline, it just doesn't work. Whether with my seventeen-year-old or two-year-old, I have the same parenting goals on the forefront of my brain: showing them Christ and teaching them to follow Him, raising them up to be responsible, successful, servant-hearted, kind, welcoming, and honest, all while making sure they feel loved, cared for, listened to, and supported. It might take five minutes to have a guy pick up after himself, and it might take twenty minutes to coach Adeline through picking up her messes, but the same basic principle is being taught. Granted, the guys we work with come from all kinds of backgrounds, and there are things that we have to take into account when we parent them, but we have found for both them and for Adeline that consistency is a big deal and it makes a big difference.

As for some of the best parenting advice ever, there is one book I have read that came to me at literally the perfect season. It's not a Christian book, and I didn't agree with ALL of it, but each page I would just stop and think, "That makes perfect sense." It's called Bringing Up Bebe; it is hilarious and a super fast read. A lot of it applied to Addie, and it still applies to my teenagers. I'm telling you, it's awesome. Also, there's a really easy and delicious recipe for a cake in there.

The best parenting advice I ever received, right after I had Addie--you know, right around that time where everyone is giving you advice whether you ask for it or not--was actually from none other than my father-in-law. It wasn't anything super philosophical or scientific or controversial. This is advice for any parent, whether you are pro- or anti-vaccination, whether sugar is the devil or Happy Meals are your best friend, and applies to little girls, boys, teenage girls, teenage boys--all of the parenting scenarios.

It's a little song you sing to yourself or think really hard while your child is losing it: "I'm more patient than you."

I know, I know, it sounds absurd at first. But I am telling you, when you are sleep deprived and your child is refusing to fall asleep and is screaming to the point where they look like their face is going to pop like a balloon, and you are about to burst into tears, sing the song in your head. The tune doesn't matter. It's the mantra that matters. "I'm more patient than you, I'm more patient than you, I'm more patient than you..." When your teenager is acting like you're the dumbest person on the planet and you need to hold your ground, give yourself a few quick mental repetitions of "I'm more patient than you" before you go all Beyonce on them like, "YOU MUST NOT KNOW 'BOUT ME." In most cases, when you start thinking of the song, you do not feel even a little bit patient. Forcing yourself to think "I'm more patient than you," though, makes you realize it's true. You are the parent. You are in control. You are the one who decides where this conversation (or lack thereof?) is going. This isn't for the sake of parental tyranny, but parental consistency. If Adeline throws a big tantrum and I react either by giving into the tantrum or, on the other side, having a tantrum of my own, she is in control of that situation. But, if I am to the point of exhaustion that I feel I am going to swing one way or the other, I sing it (even to her sometimes), and react appropriately. As the parent, I keep control and she is a better person for it.

Now, there is a ton of advice I have received and practiced, and a ton that I decided, "Yeah...I don't need that one." There is an overwhelming amount of parenting resources that any parent can have access to at the click of a Google search. I say this is the best advice ever not because it changed anything drastic in my parenting beliefs, but because it is something I use all the time, especially on the days when I might wake up and feel completely incapable of parenting that day. On days when I am sick, or exhausted, or really needing a break, kids aren't aware of that, and their need to be parented doesn't change.

There are no perfect people, and especially no perfect parents. We can't be completely composed or patient all of the time. We can't know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we make all of the right parenting decisions. We can focus, however, on being the best parent we can be one day at a time, and this is a trick that seems to help me do so.

Well, everyone, that's all I have for my semi-weekly blog writing. I leave you with some of my favorite pictures by our church photographer from VBS this week.

Everyone's favorite ridiculous character from our skits, Seymour. Seymour is now a cultural phenomenon, I'm pretty sure.

The song we were singing had nothing to do with rabbits. I can see why our faces would be misleading.

Go ahead and take a guess which child is mine. Oh, the one proudly showing off her belly button. 

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