Seven Parenting Lessons I Have Learned Along The Way
I always knew that I wanted a family of my own one day. I looked forward to the dream of my very own happily ever after, imagining a fully functioning family even though I had no idea exactly what that would look like. I wasn’t prepared for the reality of all the challenges that came with being a parent or for all of the ways that my upbringing was going to impact my parenting. I had planned to live a very different legacy for my children than the one that I had inherited but making that dream a reality has been a challenge.
My husband and I knew some of the strongholds that we were up against, such as divorce, alcoholism, abuse, and poverty. We made very conscious choices that separated us from some of those strongholds, but it didn’t keep others from creeping up on us along the way. We chose to work through some very challenging situations and move forward as a family. We have now been married for over 20 years, parents for over 20 years, and I ended up becoming a social worker while I learned about myself and tried to figure out how to do things differently when it came to my parenting style.
There is a big difference between knowing what I want to do differently and actually figuring out how to do it differently and this was the case during my younger years of parenthood. Believe me, there were times when I totally missed the opportunity to truly get to know each of my children’s individual personalities. It was a harsh reality to look in the mirror one day and accept that I needed to make some changes and repair some damage that had been made along the way. This damage was truly exposed to me during the teen years of my older two daughters. The lessons that I learned were so vital that I have taken every opportunity to share them with anyone who is willing to have that conversation with me.
Every day I am striving to become a better parent and working to repair whatever damage surfaces along the way. I have learned from my own experiences, as well as through the experiences of others, that there are times when we may feel overwhelmed along this journey. We may feel alone as we transition through different seasons of the lives of our children, trying to get through while we juggle all of the other aspects of our lives. Let me assure you that you are not alone. I am here trying to juggle it all too!
We are stewards of the precious gift of life when we fulfill our role as parents. But when life feels like it is too much to handle, sometimes we need a moment to pause and look at things from a different perspective. This will help us determine how to do things differently when it comes to parts of our parenting that we know are not working out the way that we wish it would.
As you reflect on the seven lessons that I have learned along the way, I hope that they will help you along your parenting journey.
Self-care is vital, even though it can be challenging to make time for. When I am not taking care of myself, I am not doing my best to take care of my children. When you are pouring from an empty cup, you will reach a point of having nothing left to give.
Parenting comes with limitless lifelong lessons that are available for me to learn from. That’s right! As a parent, I have learned about the importance of learning from my children. My role in their lives is that of a teacher but it does not dismiss my role as the learner.
We are the first teachers of our children in every aspect of how we live our own lives. Our children see the real us. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly when no one else is around.
My upbringing has been the biggest influence in my parenting. My upbringing has left things planted into the foundation of my being from the time I was a child. These qualities are such a part of me that they have been hard to recognize. But recognizing those parts that are not healthy is an important step in changing the way they influence my parenting.
As my children transition through different stages in their own lives, my role has shifted, and will continue to do so.
Our children are the one and only part of ourselves that we can influence in an eternal way, leaving them to live whatever legacy we invested into them on this side of heaven.
I have to remember that while God is working out His good in my story, he is doing the same for my children. Every promise that I have accepted for myself out of his word is also a promise for me to pray over my children as they move along their own life journeys.
There will be many times when we get it wrong along the way. What matters is that we pause, reflect, and start over. As parents, we may share laughter, joy, heartbreak, sorry, and grief, but more than anything, I hope that we can share intimate moments that will connect us...as we determine to press on together.