Yes I am confident in the effectiveness of certain parental principles, and believe in and trust fully in the famous parenting scripture found in Proverbs 22:6 which says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." I like how the New Living Translation reads: "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it."
What I do know, and what brings me peace is just that; knowing that all the training I am doing isn't in vain, even if it seems like it is now. Eventually (when they are older) it will take root and grow and produce and become something beautiful. I suppose it's like last year when I planted some sunflower seeds and I went out nearly everyday to see what was happening - nothing, until finally I stopped looking and forgot I had even planted them. Until one day, seemed like overnight there were huge Sunflowers growing in my backyard, like as big as my head! Amazing! They were so cool and so beautiful.The Sunflowers were a sign from God that what I'm planting will eventually grow into something beautiful ... just keep planting, keep believing, keep watering and keep praying ... and don't lose heart!
Things That Surprised Me About Parenting:
1) How different and unique each child is.
This was surprising because I thought and expected both my children to be just like me and Jana, and in some ways they are, but in other ways they are like Martians from outer space. Sometimes little demon martians (laugh).
Our kids look like us physically, for the most part, and some of their personality traits are the same, but then there are other traits that I keep asking myself, "where in the hell did they get that @#$%&! attitude?" That's when I assume they are taking after the Grandparents, on Jana's side of the family! (laugh)
I personally believe that it is our job, as parents, to allow our kids to be unique and not try to get them to conform into whatever image I or society has for them. When I see parents do crazy power-play stuff to get their child to be like them it makes me sad. I've heard of parents holding the inheritance hostage if their child doesn't vote the same political party as them. That is crazy, like totally off-the-charts-nut-job-belong-in-an-institution-crazy, and not to mention controlling. That would be like me, as a Christian, saying to my kids, "If you are not going to be a Christian, then I am not putting you in my will." That would be some twisted whacked-out stuff! Yes, of course I hope and pray they will love Jesus and follow His teachings as I am attempting to do, but if not I still love them.
Side Note: All you get when you try to control a child with power-plays is a to-your-face compliance. You are forcing them to be fake and comply to your face, then behind your back they do whatever they wish. Parents who try and do that only show their lack of intelligence and overall lack of influence and frankly a lack of love.
2) You Can't Make Kids Do Anything.
Now, when they are small you can, without too much trouble, but as they get older it can be a bit more challenging. There may be some parent reading this, whose children were compliant, thinking, "my kids did what I wanted and were easy." Lucky you! Most likely not a reflection of your awesome parenting skills, though they may have been awesome. Not all parents are so lucky. Though, in my opinion there are some benefits in a child being strong headed, most likely they will be a strong leader and change the world! (Of course, if they apply those traits for good!)
Someone might be thinking, "Yes you can make your child do stuff ... you can ground them, take away privileges, etc. until they comply." And this is sometimes true, but we've all seen children of parents who are hardcore military and yet the child still does what they want to do behind their parents back. You simply can not make them do what you want them to do. You can ask, guide, teach, train, encourage, and even discipline but you can't make. And trust me, I so wish you could!
3) A Child's Behavior is not Always a Reflection of Their Parent's Parenting.
I say this because I have counseled many wonderful but distraught parents who are just beside themselves with guilt and feelings of failure because their children are making poor choices. Come on don't you remember the poor choices we made as kids? And even if you were a perfect little kid that doesn't then magically transfer to your kids, wish it did, but it doesn't.
4) You Can't Change a Child.
They can only change themselves. Along with the help of parents, peers and of course God, but even God can not change someone if they do not want to change or allow God to change them. It starts with them wanting to change, then allowing others in to help, then there is hope.
5) I Thought All We Needed Was Love.
This has been the biggest surprise to me honestly. If I just raised my kids in a loving caring Christian home they would just be perfect little saints. Now trust me, I think LOVE is huge and is the best environment to raise a child in, but it doesn't make them perfect. Again, I think this loving home environment will eventually be appreciated in the lives of our children, but now it seems it is taken for granted many times. Right is right no matter the outcome.
6) Children Must Find Their Own Way.
I was always hopeful that my kids would just learn from my lessons learned as a teenager and take my word for why they shouldn't do certain things. I mean why make the same mistakes I made, right? Ha ha! They must learn on their own, and we as parents must be there to help wipe away the tears, pick up the pieces and give big hugs.
DON'T GET THE WRONG IDEA:
Q: So Timmy, are you saying it doesn't matter how we parent, and that our kids are just going to turnout however they are going to turn out and we as parents play no role?
A: No! We as parents play a huge role in our kid's lives! Just remember not to go crazy if and when your kids do go a little crazy. Don't allow yourself to be riddled with guilt, shame and feelings of failure. You are most likely a wonderful parent, doing a wonderful job and your kids behavior is no reflection on your parenting, but rather a reflection of a unique individual trying to find themselves, just be there for them.
Hang in there, Parenting isn't easy, it's tough and at times heartbreaking. Put your faith in God, not any particular behavior you wish for your kids, and you will be okay, and your kids will turn out okay in the end, if not sooner.