Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Being a Parent: It Can Be Overwhelming --Part Two

So I've been doing a lot of thinking about why being a parent can be so overwhelming.  In the first post I explored expectations.  Do you have them, are they realistic and how do you determine if they are realistic?    If you missed it you can read that first post HERE.

I find that along with expectations, one of the other things that I have trouble with is making comparisons.  I make too many comparisons, which lead to me feeling like a stressed and overwhelmed parent.  I know that making comparisons is not wrong.  We do it every day whether consciously or not.  We compare one shirt to another when we are trying on clothes.  We compare one cereal to another for ingredients and nutrition information.  We compare prices and features of different vehicles before making a purchase.  We do a lot of comparing and most of it is smart.  We are being wise, thrifty and responsible in our comparing.

Then there is the comparing that is NOT so wise.  The kind of comparing that can lead you to believe you are a big failure and cause you to think you will never have what it takes. The kind that Satan loves to lead you into and cheers you on to go farther and farther.  He wants you to compare until you covet.

Comparing yourself with others.  With other women, other Moms, other parents, other wives, other (insert your favorite profession here) and so on and so on.  We should look to other people and feel inspired by their accomplishments.  We should take pride in what another person can achieve.  We should NOT feel like we are "less than" just because we did not do what they did, say what they said, or whatever.  I am an original, you are an original.  We are all of the same design but we all have different strengths, weaknesses, fears, joys, passions, desires, etc....  We can not live our life feeling bad about what strength(s) we don't have.  We need to find our strengths and cultivate them and rejoice in the life and the path that God has put us on.  Then we will truly be able to be inspired and have that pride when we see others successes.

This is so hard for me.  I think because it is much easier for me to complain about what I want, then it is for me to do the work and strive to be the best me that I can be.  I can want to be you.  I can try to emulate everything you do.  Could I succeed?  Well, it might look like I was.  However on the inside I would be miserable and all because I wouldn't be me!  I would be a fake me.  It's work and it is not easy but it is better than being fake.

We all do parenting differently, it's good to get tips from one another and to be sound boards for learning.  We are all on a learning curve.  None of us knows exactly what we are doing at all times.  That's okay.  So that being said, I have to realize that what works at my neighbor's house may not work at mine.  And just because it didn't work does not mean that I failed.  It means, I learned.  I learned what didn't work and so I can then move on to try something else. 

Something else that I find myself doing, is a kid comparison.  You know what I'm talking about.  You think to yourself, "Well at least my kid doesn't do that!" or, "Why does my kid not know how to do that yet?"  If you are the parent of more than one child, then you will find that those comparisons include comparing your own kids!  I have learned that there is just NO comparison when it comes to each child.  Each child is different and grows and learns in different ways and at different paces.  It's great to have a statistic that gives you an idea of when different milestones should occur.  Those kinds of things are important to watch, to make sure that there are not any serious issues with your child's health that need to be addressed.  However, no matter the health of the child or how many milestones they have achieved or not achieved, that child is a special individual and needs to be encouraged in the strengths that you see in them.

I have realized, that I can play a big part in creating a healthy self-image and confidence in my children.  For example: If they hear me say, "Susie plays the piano so beautifully.  I'm sure you would be that good if you would just practice more."  Basically they hear, " You need to practice because your piano playing stinks."  Instead, I need to applaud their efforts and encourage them with praise. 

How do we keep from doing these things?  I think we have to take it day by day and realize that we are not going to instantly stop making comparisons.  I think that we have to look to The One with whom there is nothing that compares.  " 'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One" Isaiah 40:25.  By putting him first and trusting in Him for the things that he has given to me as promises in my life I will find it hard to make comparisons. 

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