Perspective

Parenting is so hard.

I know I don’t have to tell you that. There are so many roles to play.  I can be a nurse to my kids.  I can be their cook, their chauffeur, their entertainer.  I really don’t mind being their housekeeper.  I love to be their teacher and friend.  It’s the parenting part of parenting that I just am not good at.

I feel like I’ve tried every theory possible to “train up a child in the way he should go.” But I feel totally helpless sometimes.  We have many good days, but I seem to constantly question my parenting strategies.

I read this a while back. And I’ve read it many times since.  It was eye opening for me. And I’m using it now as a point of reference.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I can choose to think that I have a difficult child who is driving me crazy in constant battles of will, or I can choose to see him as a child of integrity who isn’t easily swayed from his own viewpoints.

I can take each situation as a lesson to show him how to respect his elders (i.e. fight with his elders), or I can give him opportunities to make wise decisions and be responsible on his own.

I can break his will and teach him to be obedient, or I can foster a relationship built on mutual love and respect.

This article was completely revolutionary for me.  I still have no idea how to put much of this into practice.  I say that my boy is completely opposite of me and I don’t understand him.  In truth, though our energy levels and social attitudes are very different, our interests and personalities (read: strong wills) are very similar.

I think what I’ve needed most is just a change of perspective.

 

God, help me to step back and look at the big picture of parenting.  I so often feel like I just need to make it through the day.  When maybe I should be focusing on a brighter side.  Establishing a relationship with my boys, not just disciplining or rewarding each behavior.  Push back my feelings of helplessness and give me hope for our future.  I need clarity and specific ideas how to set my boys up for success.  I need patience and peace to handle the crazy that is two energetic boys.  Thank you for the personality that you gave my boys.  May they grow and perfect their strengths; Isaac standing up for what he believes in, and Asher caring wholeheartedly for the people around him.  May they use their strengths to do good in this world and make it better than they found it.  Help me to be a good mother, a wise mother, and one that my boys want to stick with and run to in good times and bad.

“Saxy”

I think it’s well known, now, that I don’t want to be an over-protective parent.

I can handle the occasional trip to the hospital, but I do not want to take any risks when it comes to my boys’ innocence.  I take that seriously.

A few months ago, we had an incident with a neighbor boy who told my boys to go try out a certain sexual act.  I was mortified and heartbroken that that innocence was robbed from my boys.  I was even more concerned how this seven year old  became aware of this information in the first place.  I feared abuse gave him the knowledge of that activitiy.  But I also considered the mere relay of information as abuse to my kids.

Another neighbor talked to this boy’s mom and she didn’t seem concerned with the situation.

When Asher told me what this boy told him, I did not have the appropriate response.  According to all the parenting articles I’ve read, when your kid says a bad word or does something inappropriate to get your attention, you’re supposed to ignore them, or have a very mild reaction and just tell them, “That’s inappropriate, don’t say that again.”

So when Isaac and Asher came inside from playing and Asher blurted out, “Guess what ‘So-and-So’ told me to do…” My first response was:

“GASP!  WHAT?  He said WHAT?”  (think Schwartz’s mom on the phone in The Christmas Story)  I made Asher repeat himself and Isaac concurred, yes, that’s what the kid said.

I got my wits about me and calmly responded, “Well, that is a very inappropriate thing to say.  I hope I never hear you repeat that to anyone else,” and then went about fixing dinner.

I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to draw any attention to the phrase they just repeated to me.  I wanted them to forget it completely and never mention it again.  But I also needed to go back to them and to thank them for coming and telling me; to tell them that they can always tell me the things they hear on the playground.  I also needed to remind them about how to keep their bodies safe and what is appropriate behavior when it comes to their body.  So, we came back to that conversation before bedtime that night.

I prayed for a long time that my boys would completely forget the words they were told.  And the neighbor boy moved away just a couple of weeks later, so I don’t fear that more information or inappropriate situations will come from that boy. But the whole thing really upset me, and I pray with all my heart that my boys were not changed from that experience.

I decided that day that our boys would be home schooled and they’d never leave the house again.

But we can’t protect our kids from these situations forever.

Sex is everywhere they go, everything they see, and hear in public.  You can’t drive down the street without seeing billboards.  You can’t flip through the radio stations without hearing an inappropriate song.

 

This six year old boy was suspended for telling a girl, “I’m sexy and I know it.” He was just repeating a song he’d heard.  My boys sing that song around the house all the time.  I have never played it in my house or car, but I wonder if it was played in gym class or by some friend.  The other day, Asher pulled his short legs up, making his pants look the shape of underwear, and told me, “Hey Mom, I’m saxy and I know it.” I’ve been telling my boys that I don’t like that song and asking them not to sing it around the house.  But you know how catchy songs are.  They stick in your head.

I’ve been waiting for my boys to ask me what “sexy” means.  I’ve tried to come up with some appropriate answers but they haven’t asked.  So, when Asher brought my attention to the song, I told him he doesn’t even know what “Saxy” means.  He pulled his pant legs back up, exposing his pasty white thighs and said, “This is saxy!”  Apparently our fourth grade neighbor told him that.

Later on I heard Isaac correcting Asher, “It’s sexy.  Not saxy.”  Asher stuck to his guns and said, “Nope, it’s saxy.”

It’s funny to talk about, but not when I’m having to deal with it in real time.  I know the American Academy of Pediatrics is advising parents to talk about sex from birth.  We don’t want it to be a taboo topic that my boys don’t ask us about because then they’ll get all their information from their friends.  But we also aren’t going to explain the birds and the bees to our first grader.  It’s all about appropriate timing and appropriate amounts of sharing.

When I thought about talking about puberty and sex with my boys, I always assumed that would be Randall’s job.  He’s the man of the house, he can talk to my boys about that stuff.  But these situations just pop up unexpectedly and Randall’s not always around.  In fact, Randall’s out working most of the time my boys are awake.  So, I’m going to need to be better prepared next time I have to answer a question or respond to a similar situation.

Ugh.  Just another difficult and subjective task a parent has to navigate.  Any advice is welcomed!

I just feel so inadequate some days.

 

 

God, I do not want to screw up my kids more than I already have.  Please give me wisdom and discernment when it comes to navigating how to talk about sex with my kids.  Please protect their innocence until they are emotionally ready.  Please protect them from abuse, physically or verbally that will take away the innocence they have left.