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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Being a Pushy Parent (or not)

I often feel conflicted in my parenting. I tend to waiver between showing my children grace and pushing them on towards excellence when I know they’re capable of more.

As a Mommy, I tend to lean towards grace. Especially where Hannah and Joseph are concerned. They’ve only been home for six months. They’ve been through so many changes. They’re still getting adjusted to everything in America. English is still their second language, for crying out loud.

I’m all for showing grace when grace is due. I’m all for patience and mercy and understanding and letting children learn at their own pace and in the way that suits them best. I'm all for realistic expectations.

And yet, I never want to shower my children with grace to the extent that it handicaps them in some way. I never want to show so much grace that I’m actually holding my children back from reaching their full potential for the Lord.

One of our most blessed and important roles as parents is to encourage our children to flourish and bloom into all that God created them to be. When the world tells my children they can't do something, then I want to be the encourager and the cheerleader who tells them they can do it.

Each of my children have areas where they struggle. Some struggle more than others. But for all of them, the inability to grasp a skill can be a real source of hurt. As their Mommy, it's my job to help them rise above. It's my job to help them realize that they can be far more than the world gives them credit for.

Here’s a real life example from our home:

After mealtimes, we have our children ask to be excused before they’re allowed to get up from the table. I know. That probably sounds a little heavy handed and old fashioned… but it’s what works in our house. We eat and, especially after dinner, we like everyone sit and talk for a few minutes before running off in seven different directions. So that’s the rule.

When Hannah and Joseph arrived at the end of last year, they took to this right away. We’d eat. We’d talk. We'd talk some more.

Madeline would say “may I please be excused?” And that was fine and she was excused.

Davis would say, maybe I please be excused?” And that was fine and he was excused.

Hannah would say “Please. Be excused?” And that was fine and she was excused.

And Joseph would say “aldkjldjfla;kdsj;la Jibberish, Jibberish, Jibberish, acooze? And that was… well, I guess that’s fine. That’s close enough anyways. So he was excused.

This went on for a couple of months, until one night several weeks ago.

We did the usual dinner routine. We ate and talked. We talked some more. Madeline, Davis and Hannah asked to be excused. Joseph mumbled his usual line. And I was just about to excuse everyone when Dan stepped in.

“Madeline, Davis and Hannah, you are excused. Joseph buddy – why don’t you try asking again? Use the real words this time.” To which Joseph replied “aldkjldjfla;kdsj;la Jibberish, Jibberish, Jibberish, acooze?” But instead of just letting it go and giving up, Dan decided to believe in Joseph. And he tried again.

“Joseph, I really think you can do this. You've been doing so well with your English and using big boy words. Just give it a try buddy – do your very best.

Joseph sat thoughtfully for a minute. He smiled. He thought some more. And then he replied with this: (Turn the sound up… he’s talking very softly).

This video wasn’t taken on the actual night that this happened. But as you can see, several weeks later, we’re all still so stinkin’ proud of him. And what’s more, Joseph is so proud of himself.

If not for a Daddy who cared enough to give him a little push, this small victory might never have been claimed.

Don’t exasperate your children. Don’t set them up for failure. Don't place un-due pressure on them over things that hold no eternal value anyways.

But when it’s appropriate and the time is right, believe in them and give them a little push. Encourage them to succeed, not necessarily in the world's eyes, but to become all that God intends for them to be.
Hold the crowns above their little heads, and let them reach for them.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
-- Proverbs 22:6


Angela Braniff said...

Loved this post! That video totally made me cry :)

Sarah said...

Aww...that is awesome. He did it! You can tell in the video that he is totally proud of himself. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Oh such sweet video and sentiments--- love it. I have appreciated the book _Grace based parenting_ by Tim Kimmel to try to understand this balance. Love to you guys, Anna

stephanie garcia said...

Number one, this is adorable. And number two, it is so timely to an experience we had just tonight with one of our children. I, too, waver between showing grace and expecting what I know is their best (which is better than what their effort sometimes reveals.) Thank you for sharing!

Wild Olive said...

AW - sweet boy!!!! Great job, Joseph!!!! Love that big smile of his.

I've been an exasperater lately...maybe it's time for me to let up a bit. :)
Love you,

Alison said...

SO precious!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh that we would all cheer for moments
like this. Most of the important things in life do not get rewarded by "the world." our job is to recognize them and celebrate them.

Taryn said...

he is so cute! Love this!!!

anything but LoKEY said...

This is so great! We got so tickled watching him light up. Yay, Joseph!

Shannon Evans said...

loved the family celebration!! and it looks like he did too :)

Anonymous said...

Had to watch that one a few times- so great!! Way to go Joseph! And I love all the cheering siblings; just precious. Made me cry. :)
Carrie Andersson

jkseevers said...

now THAT is precious! LOVE it, Shelly! Thanks for sharing;)


Griffin said...

ooh.. i love everthing about this, shelly!