Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Reflections as a Parent in an Overly-Sensitive and Overly-Critical Culture

New Year's Eve has always brought out the introspective, psuedo-writer in me. Even as a young girl, I would steal away to my bedroom and get out my journal, think, write, and pray about the year ahead. Well, this last year hasn't left me with any energy to compile my thoughts but tonight I feel that same tugging.

I heard a parenting author interviewed on a talk show this morning and she said, "Please don't raise any more entitled children. Stop the pampering." This sentiment has been echoed on many parenting blogs and in plenty of articles but it confirmed another thought that has been bouncing around in my head this week...

Our culture is both overly-sensitive and overly-critical. I've formed this opinion in recent weeks from the reactions I've seen in social media outlets to everything from a picture of a physically fit mother surrounded by her brood to the recent fiasco over Duck Dynasty's patriarch's interview in GQ. It seems that everyday, we fain great offense over tweets, interviews, pictures, quotes and, then, in turn slam those sources of our offenses. Sure we come to people's defense, too, but usually at the cost of criticizing some else's response. And honestly, I've gotten so sick of all of it that I've wanted to just give up on social media altogether.

But as a parent of three boys with a little girl on the way, there is a part of me that is challenged to look at all of this and ask myself how I want to raise my own children in such a culture. I'm no longer interested in just analyzing these "situations" for my own growth, but in looking at how I want my children to react and respond to all that lies ahead of them. And there is a lot. We have access to information from every corner of the globe and there is much to sort through.

Which brings me to my new year's thoughts on parenting tonight...
That I want to raise grace-filled, life-giving, resilient children who know who they are and aren't afraid to live out their gifts and communicate in a loving way. And you know what? This goal was looking attainable with my first born who is sensitive, loving, and very flexible and secure...yes, resilient even. Although he has his share of weaknesses and I want to stretch him more in all these areas, he was a very easy child to parent these last six years. I've come to learn with the twins' differences, that so much more of our personalities are a result of nature than I ever wanted to assume. It was more fun to take credit for a toddler who never once had a tantrum or meltdown.

One of the twins started shouting his demands today. Actually, more like screeching at the top of his lungs. The rolling on the ground, stiff-fits weren't doing the trick, so he has upped his ante. I sighed and realized, once again, that parenting him will be so different than my "style" with E. Consistency and kind, firm limits take on whole new dimensions with my more assertive twins. As I tried to type out these very thoughts, one of them woke after just half an hour in bed....so I patted his back and thought, "Yes, I'm just at the beginning of learning how to instill self-control and resilience so that my children won't be easily offended or easily offend."  

I believe this year, I will make an effort to write about that very journey.