“Look, all you can do as a parent is try to pack the days with as much good stuff as possible and hope that it outweighs the bad. You hope that the good stuff sticks.” Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson in This is Us
As parents, we are blessed to be able to share the Gospel with our special needs children. We may grow frustrated with them, and the world may condemn them for things that are out of their control, but we can share always God’s love with them. We can daily remind them of their baptism, and the fact that Jesus died for them. We can gently correct them where correction is needed, but always remember what a privilege we have in sharing the Gospel with them every day of their lives!
I will (hopefully) occasionally be writing posts for another site, the Sisters of Katie Luther. Today my first article, which is about parenting special needs children, was published. Feel free to drop by and take a look around!
Ever since having had my first child almost ten years ago, I’ve witnessed the following discussion on a regular basis: “Who makes a better parent? Someone younger or older?”
Now, to clarify, younger doesn’t mean a teenager, and older doesn’t mean a grandparent. It’s usually a conversation about having your first child in your 20s versus having your first child in your 30s.
There are strong opinions on each side of the discussion. Some insist that younger is better, because you have more energy, you’re more in touch with culture, you’re more open-minded because you’re still growing yourself. On the other end of the spectrum are those that swear it’s best to wait to have children, because you’ll be more grown up, wiser, have more life experiences, more money, etc.
The really interesting part is when you get mothers that did start having children at a young age who think they would have made better parents if they had waited, or those that did wait, for a variety of reasons, that think they would have been better mothers to their children if they had been younger when the children were born.
It’s kind of a silly discussion, because if you did it one way, there’s no way you can ever know how it would have turned out for you had you done it the other way.
Am I a better mother now than when I had Turkey? I sure hope so! But it has nothing to do with my age then or now. It’s all about my experience as a mother. In any job, you tend to get better the longer you do it…more efficient, more knowledgeable, more confident. I view motherhood the same way. I’ve had almost ten years of experience, and I know what I did right and wrong the first four times, and I can apply it to the fifth child, and learn from my previous successes and failures. Yes, I’m older now, but if I was just starting out, I wouldn’t have those experiences to look back on…I’d still be just starting out, and learning from my first set of mistakes.
So, I don’t think that older women make better mothers by any stretch of the imagination. Life experience does not equal parenting experience. I would, however, like a little of the extra energy I had in my 20s back to help me through this stretch of parenting, though!
This is as fascinating article. Now, I know that French families have struggles of their own, even if they look different from the struggles we encounter in America. No family is perfect, regardless of nationality, and superior is a heavy-handed word to use in the title of a parenting article. But, I think that there’s a lot to be learned from the French mindset as far as parenting goes, and it’s worth considering adding some of their techniques to your parenting repertoire if you don’t already do those things!
I started noticing that the French families around us didn’t look like they were sharing our mealtime agony. Weirdly, they looked like they were on vacation. French toddlers were sitting contentedly in their high chairs, waiting for their food, or eating fish and even vegetables. There was no shrieking or whining. And there was no debris around their tables.
Though by that time I’d lived in France for a few years, I couldn’t explain this. And once I started thinking about French parenting, I realized it wasn’t just mealtime that was different. I suddenly had lots of questions. Why was it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I’d clocked at French playgrounds, I’d never seen a child (except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why didn’t my French friends ever need to rush off the phone because their kids were demanding something? Why hadn’t their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours had?
Soon it became clear to me that quietly and en masse, French parents were achieving outcomes that created a whole different atmosphere for family life. When American families visited our home, the parents usually spent much of the visit refereeing their kids’ spats, helping their toddlers do laps around the kitchen island, or getting down on the floor to build Lego villages. When French friends visited, by contrast, the grownups had coffee and the children played happily by themselves.
I recently read Francine Rivers’s two-part Marta’s Legacy saga, (more on that in a future post), and something one of the characters said got me thinking. She said something along the lines of, “I never wanted my children to have things easier than I did.”
On the surface, that may sound shocking…why wouldn’t want a parent want a child to have things better than they did? But easier doesn’t always, (and maybe hardly ever does), equal better.
I don’t want my children’s lives to be easier than mine. Are there events of my life that I hope they won’t have to face? Of course. But I do want them to face hard things, because how you deal with those things helps shapes who you are. And you can’t appreciate the easy times as well, if you haven’t had to deal with difficulties.
I don’t necessarily want my children to have “more” than I did, either. Having more, whether it’s money, or things, or whatever, doesn’t make you happier, or stronger, or even more successful. “More” can also lead to more suffering, more struggle, more troubles.
What I want is for my children to be better than me. Better people, better friends, better servants…just better. If they are better than me, then I will feel like I have done my job as a mother, and feel that they will better serve the Lord and His people in whatever they do. And isn’t that really all a mother can ask for?
I’ve been married 20 years, Mr. Lee, and each day my wife and I grow closer and closer together. Mainly because, we’re afraid of the children! Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show
I was very excited to read What He Must Be…If He Wants to Marry My Daughter by Voddie Baucham Jr., because I’ve read an excellent book by Dr. Baucham before (Family Driven Faith), and I was curious to see what he had to say about helping your daughter find a good, Christian man to marry (even though I’m no where near ready to think about my two little girls ever getting married!).
I thought that this was another excellent book by Dr. Baucham. It’s a topic that I think a lot of parents either don’t think about or are afraid to approach. In a culture of “falling in love” and “if it feels good, do it,” fathers and mothers have to make a deliberate effort in guiding their children as they look at potential spouses, at instilling in their children what kind of qualities to look for before they marry, and in helping (their sons, particularly), cultivate these qualities in themselves.
I did feel that this book would be especially beneficial for fathers to read, although mothers can gain much from it as well. I also think that fathers and mothers would take away different things from their reading. I’m sure that my perspective on the book is much different from what my husband’s perspective would be were he to read it.
I especially liked the chapter entitled “He Must Be Committed to Children.” When dating or even newly engaged, I’m sure that the topic of children is far from many couple’s minds, and yet a man’s feelings about children, the way he treats them, and his ability to interact with them speak volumes for the kind of man he is, and are a good indicator of the future of the relationship. While it may not be a comfortable thing to consider or discuss, it is a crucial topic, and parents need to be encouraging their daughters to consider it, and raise their sons to care for children.
The only part of the book that really puzzled me was the conclusion. It seemed to focus entirely on race issues, and while I understand that that can be a very important discussion for some families, it seemed like it would have been better discussed in it’s own chapter, instead of a wrap-up to the whole book. It felt a little awkward having the conclusion focused so much on one topic.
You can read more about What He Must Be If He Wants to Marry My Daughter at www.crossway.org/blog
I recently finished the third book in Amy Wallace’s “Defenders of Hope Series”: Enduring Justice. I haven’t read the first two books, so it took me a few chapters to get the characters figured out, and try to guess about events that were referred to that must have occurred in the first two books.
Despite the fact that it was a slow start for me, I loved the book. There were two main plots that were woven together–Hanna Kessler dealing with the childhood abuse that she had never shared with anyone, not even her family, and the FBI (including Hanna’s brother and her boyfriend) searching for a racially motivated killer.
This was a pretty gritty book, because of the flashbacks to Hanna’s abuse, and the details regarding the white supremacists as the FBI is desperately trying to find and apprehend them. It was a very real book, with characters dealing with real emotions and real flaws. I didn’t find this to be the stereotypical Christian novel, filled with syrupy characters who always make the right decisions. The characters in this book made mistakes, some big ones, and had to deal with the consequences just like they would in the real world.
The style of this book very much reminded my of Dee Henderson’s “O’Malley” series, which is high praise from me, as that was the first mystery/suspense series I ever enjoyed reading. I am looking forward to going back and reading the first two books, Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, and I’ll be curious to see if Amy Wallace writes any more books in the series–if she does, I’ll definitely be looking for those, too!
I also had the chance to read Dear Mom by Melody Carlson, which is a book written for mothers of teenage daughters, in a style as though it is written by the teenager herself. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this book to be nearly as appealing as Enduring Justice was.
I understand the purpose of the book, and think it’s a good one–to help mothers see how their actions, from the way they dress to the way they interact with their daughter’s friends to the words they choose, affect their children. But something about the tone of the book was disturbing to me. Maybe that’s just the natural tone of teenagers, and that’s why it rubbed me the wrong way, but it came across like mothers are just stupid, and need to be talked to like children in order to understand how they can make communication with their daughters easier.
I am all for encouraging parents and teens in their interactions, and helping them understand each other better. But I would think that there is a better, more respectful way to accomplish this goal.
Don’t think that the irony of this is lost on me…
Before I had children, I didn’t have a lot of ideas about what I’d “never” allow my children to do. I didn’t have a lot of moments in public saying, “When I have children, you can be sure that I’ll never let them…” or, “I won’t ever tolerate…” and to be honest, for the most part, I still don’t. I figure, you never really know what led up to a situation, so you can’t just judge a bad parent (unless it’s abuse) or a bad kid. As a matter of fact, the only real “I’ll never” I currently have involves Heelys, or other shoes that have wheels built into the heel. What a disaster those are…
I did have a few things I *was* sure I would “never” do, however. The first was homeschooling. Even one year ago, I was certain that I would “never” homeschool my children, for a variety of reasons. And now here we are, almost 3/4 of the way through our first year of homeschooling, and planning next year. Yes, my variety of reasons to *not* homeschool went away, and now I have a whole new variety of reasons why we *are* homeschooling. Sometimes, it’s still a surprise to me…
The second was sending a three-year-old to school. And in my defense, I still think that a normal three-year-old belongs at home with mommy, not in a school setting. There’s plenty of time for that later. But Moose’s experience is not normal, and so I broke my second rule, and sent a three-year-old to the public school, the same school that my two older children *should* have attended this year, had I not done a 180 on homeschooling last summer.
So, they’re equal and opposite situations…older children at home, where I swore they’d never be, because it’s the best place for *them* to learn, and younger son in school at what I used to think was a too young age, because it’s the best place for *him* to learn.
Yes, the irony abounds here, on several levels…