Parenting as a Relationship

Felisha is wife to Dustin, and momma to Josiah. She is also a blogger and I asked her to share with you part of her parenting journey. I love Felisha’s desire to seek after God’s will for her as a parent, and for Josiah as she raises him. Enjoy!

When Danielle asked me to write for this blog, I was totally pumped for the opportunity! Afterall, I’m a budding blogger. BUT…when she said it was about what I’ve learned as a parent, I immediately felt sick…What do I have to say about parenting, when I feel like a failure daily? 

Why do we mothers and creative types fear failure? I’m convinced it’s the enemy’s favorite of our characteristics. He doesn’t even have to work for it. Don’t give him the pleasure, Momma! What I want to share today is that we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to trust that we know our babies and respect the unique personalities that God created in them.

After my initial sense of dread over writing about parenting, I knew what I had to say was about relationships. In a recent email conversation with my dear sister-in-law, Leah, about our tender-hearted boys, I wrote,

“I love learning the ‘whys’ of parenting [we were discussing introversion and extroversion]. It definitely makes the ‘hows’ less challenging. It’s such a blessing to be in a relationship with your child. This might sound stupid, but I don’t think I ever really understood that parenting is just a new type of relationship. It’s not just a responsibility on my part. Josiah is a unique, individual person, and I just have to learn him like anybody else. I don’t know why that fascinates me so much, but I love it.”

I remember when Josiah was born, I was hit with something I’d never considered. Although we definitely bonded, I remember thinking, “I have no idea what to do with this kid. I just met him!” Josiah had a rough beginning, and due to an issue with dairy in my diet, he cried a lot during the first few months. Surprisingly, it didn’t phase me as much as would be expected. I just decided that this screaming child was outspoken and had some sort of need I didn’t know how to meet, yet. Over time, I learned how to meet his needs; he cried less and smiled more. He is still a very outspoken, passionate, and attention seeking boy, but we’ve learned each other and continue to do so each day.

The thing with relationships is that they thrive on humility and mutual respect. And let me tell you, parenting has been very humbling for me. I’m so thankful for that. I have made a point to say, “I’m sorry” to Josiah since the day he was born. “I’m sorry, Momma doesn’t know what you need…I’m sorry Momma is so grumpy…I’m sorry I yelled…I’m sorry I scratched you when I picked you up.” There’s no limit to my mistakes, but humility goes such a long way. Just because I am older and more able to provide for myself, doesn’t mean I am above Josiah. It’s vitally important that he and I both know that.

As I have sought to be more humble and selfless, I’ve learned how to show this tiny person I’m raising the same respect I’d desire from another adult. Dustin and I have been told over and over how sweet and well-behaved Josiah is. This was definitely a gift from God, but we also believe it has to do with the fact that we have always treated him like a tiny adult who has the same biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs as we do. When his needs are met and frustrations are minimized by compromise and understanding, he has much less need for acting out. Don’t you get frustrated when someone won’t listen to you or won’t let you do something you so desperately need or desire to do?!

Additionally, when a child feels free, loved, and respected, he learns to treat other people the same way. It’s a natural response to his parents’ example. One of the most profound bits of parenting advice I’ve ever gotten was from my own Daddy. When I asked him how you teach a child to love God, He simply said, “You just have to live it.” It cannot be said enough that children live what they see, not what they are told. So, you don’t want your child to scream and steal toys from other children? Well, don’t yell at him and rip things out of his hands. I believe it really can be that simple. I know there are times when you have to instruct a disobedient child, but I really believe it starts with your behavior as a parent.

I often cringe when I hear of “baby training”…Now, I don’t want to get into a debate over parenting philosophies. Frankly, I don’t believe you can subscribe to any one style with every child. That’s sort of my point. Each child is a unique creation, and if we want to encourage each of them to become the beautiful soul he or she was made to be, we need to get to know them.

Although I respect and understand the need for boundaries with children, I hate the thought of training a child to be a carbon copy of some made-up “perfect” sleeper/eater/communicator, etc. Josiah is who he is. Some of his personality is delightful and some of it is frustrating. He has strengths and flaws just like his Momma. Each day, I try to nurture his soul, so that he becomes the worshiper of God HE was created to be. I am definitely NOT a perfect mother, but that is not the goal anyway, is it? Josiah growing up and worshipping Jesus in His own beautiful way is all this Momma could ever ask.
If you’d like to read more from Felisha, check out her blog: millybecomingwilder.wordpress.com

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