I've got A LOT of parenting books. I started reading them before my oldest was even born. I was, of course, going to be the perfect parent. We both were.
When I think back on things I had to be one of the most obnoxious first time moms of all time. In fact, much to my shame, the first time I let my in-laws take Chai Tea somewhere without me was when she was nearly ten months old. It was Christmastime and they wanted to take her to Seattle Center to see the lights. I actually wrote out a list of rules that they had to read before they could leave. I remember them snickering over it quietly. There were things on it like DO NOT TAKE HER OUT OF HER CAR SEAT FOR ANY REASON and I even attached an information sheet on what to do for an infant choking. I was also adamant that they have her back at a certain time. She had a schedule, you know.
Every new struggle with any of our children sent me running in search of the latest and greatest book. Over the years we've encountered many opinions from others in regard to our parenting. All different, of course. We were too strict. We were too lenient. We took everything too seriously. We didn't take things seriously enough. Our consequences were too harsh. Our consequences were lacking. It is true that we weren't always consistent. That is, unless you count being consistently inconsistent.
I decided long ago that parenting books suck. So why did I recently buy yet another one? Apparently, it was to underscore that belief. And waste money.
This latest and greatest book was written by a Christian guy that actually lives in our area. I am not going to name it. His big thing (and all of them have their own "big thing") is that kids are like checking accounts and you have to make a deposit before you make a withdrawal. Okay. What does that mean? Well, that means that if you tell your kid to do something and they don't do it that before you can say anything to them you have to make a "deposit" into their "account." Example: You walk into the family room and your kid has their school books strewn about on the floor, is watching TV before doing their homework, and there is a cereal bowl with milk still in it perched precariously over your new carpet... where there is also a no food rule. Deposit - "Hey You! Wow! You did a great job on your hair today! Did you try something new?" then you let the kid talk about that. Then you are ready to make your "withdrawal." Only you can only pick one of the things they are currently doing wrong and it must be approached as such, "Hey, did you remember that we had a little talk about not eating in the family room?"
Barf. I found the book to be nothing but creative manipulation.
I get a newsletter put out by a veteran homeschooling family. I got the latest one about three weeks ago. These people have raised all of their children and now those children are starting their families and are all choosing to homeschool their kids as well. I've not always agreed with everything they've put out there but I do believe that their hearts are in the right place and that they have a lot of good ideas. However, in this last newsletter there was an article written by one of their daughters. She has a 3 year old and a 1 year old. She went on and on about how she is effectively laying the foundation that will ensure she does not have problems with her children when they are teens. Really? She also had the audacity to state that if anyone is having a problem with a teen it is their own fault. Her statements in that article fully revealed that she believes that she has the power to control her children's choices through her parenting.
Why are there so many parenting books on the market? Why are so many of those books in conflict with other books? Does anyone really have the answers?
The bible tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. When he is old? Would that not indicate that there might be a time when he does not?
I have very much always wanted to find that certain set of steps that would guarantee success. How did I define success? I guess I would have to say... that would include our kids all following our faith, being well educated, being contributing members of our society (by providing for themselves and having a servant's heart toward others), being happy and, of course, arising and calling me blessed.
To be honest, there are days lately when I wonder how much of what I wanted for my children was really what I wanted for me. Let's face it, most of us look at kids that have moved through their lives with little trouble and automatically think their parents really had it together. I'm really not that shallow. I love my kids and have wanted the best for them for them. But, I am also guilty of using my kids behavior and accomplishments as a barometer of my mothering. When they are on track I feel like I am a good mom. When they are struggling I feel like a bad mom.
At what age are our kids accountable? We have all been given a free will. We all make choices in regard to our lives. Why is it that some parents even feel they can take the credit for their kids' good choices? Maybe they are erroneously believing that they have control?
I think parenting books prey on the hopes and fears of parents. They all tout that they've found the answers. Buy me! I can give you that perfect recipe to make your kid do what you want them to! Do these steps to insure yourself against future problems! Here's a how to on how to get out of the hole you are in!
I think most parents really love their kids and do the best they can by them.
I've been thinking a lot lately. I've realized that most of the parents I know that have raised their kids don't really offer parenting advice. They are the ones that quietly state how hard it is. I've definitely moved from being and advice giver to survivor mode.
Deuteronomy 30 basically states that if we love God with all of our hearts and all of our souls that He will take care of our descendants. It seems I need to work on that and everything else will follow. Eventually.