Wednesday, November 24, 2010

parenting.

What a topic.

I've gone through a few significant phases of parenting in my life. The first was obviously being parented. As a child, the only concept I had of parenting was the direct experience I had with my parents. Parenting was simply a sum of decisions, rules, guidelines, and relationships that my mom and dad presented to me. For the most part, I was unaware of any other style or type of parenting. Sure, there were the occasions when I would notice that certain friends had slightly different rules or ways of doing things and this would kind of weird me out as a kid and get me thinking a little... but when it was all said and done, my parents were the only parents I knew. And their way of parenting was the only way I was aware of.

As I entered high school I had a major paradigm shift with this. My life experiences grew, and so did my view of parenting. I started realizing that my parents' parenting was NOT the only parenting there was. I became overwhelmingly aware of MANY different parenting styles and procedures. This was when I first REALLY appreciated my parents and their parenting. This was the stage when I was actually thankful for the all times my parents said, "no." This was when I looked back and realized how right they were SO MANY TIMES (although this was NOT the stage to admit that). This was when I was able to see that my parents' parenting was not perfect, but it was definitely a part of my life I had taken for granted. As I grew in wisdom and was able to see different parenting my friends received and compare it to my own, I knew how blessed I was.

Then, the next shift happened. And this is the paradigm I am currently in. I think. I shifted from just realizing that there are many different ways of parenting and acknowledging that, to actually considering them and deciding which ones I want to put into practice myself. For the first time, I started looking at parenting with ME as the one in the driver seat. Whoa. The first time this happened it FREAKED ME OUT! I think I was about 19 and I was with a family whose child acted in a way I did not like. I listened and watched the mother's response and thought to myself, "That does not seem very effective. I don't think I want to parent in that way." And only a few days later I was with that same family and observed a completely different situation which made me say, "Now THAT was cool parenting." Stuff like this started happening ALL THE TIME.

As Marty came on the scene and our relationship got serious and started pointing toward marriage, we had these conversations a whole lot. We've both said many times how thankful we are for SO many examples of what we want to do and what we don't want to do. We've been able to watch from the outside many things that are very effective, and many that just make us cringe. [Now, please let me say this-- We are NOT, in any way, being judgmental toward any parents. We both know very well that until we are in those shoes, fulfilling those responsibilities, making those decisions, there is no way in the world we can even begin to THINK we "know" how to do it.]

Now I said that I think  I am currently still in this last stage. I said I think because lately it's kind of taken on a new development. I've found myself going beyond just saying, "I want to do this as a parent" to actually having a stirring in my heart and prayer on my lips for very specific things. I have found myself, MANY times, just expressing to the Lord something that is on my heart in the area of parenting and just asking him to give me wisdom in whether or not that is something I should implement in my own parenting. I have recognized some parenting strategies that are very important, yet I know must be very difficult on the mom and dad, and have been praying in advance for strength to do those things the right way, even when it might be hard for me to do. I have prayed for friends who will serve as mirrors for Marty and me reveal our blind spots and tell us the things that we may not want to hear, but that will benefit us in being better parents. I have prayed for parent friends who we can share our experiences with, pray with, learn with, and be held accountable with. I have prayed for many, many more things like this... and lately, these prayers have become a daily habbit.

No, I'm not pregnant. I have no idea if or when God will bless us with children. But I know that if he does, I want to be as ready as possible. I know that there are so many things you can NOT prepare for when it comes to this, but I do believe God can get your heart, mind, strength and wisdom ready. And I'm praying he does this for us. Both together, as a parent unit, and individually, as a mom and a dad.

And I know that above ALL else, our best (and really, our only) preparation comes from us seeking and walking with the Lord. The idea of ME being a MOM is so exciting, but I'm not going to lie, it still freaks me out! Big time! There are so many "what-ifs", so many "hows", so many "not ready fors". In my mind, I'm not sure that I will ever consider myself capable of fulfilling such a huge responsibility. But I guess  it's because I'm not capable. I don't and never will have the wisdom and strength it takes to truly parent the way the Lord desires. But He has the wisdom. He has the strength. And I have faith that He will provide exactly what I need, when I need it, and ultimately, He'll parent the child through me. Through Marty. Through us. Now THAT is something I can't wait for!


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