Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Parenting...

It's becoming a theme in my life. After 14 years, it's about dang time, don't you think?

Below is a pictorial representation of my philosophy of parenting. Well, an aspect of parenting. A foundational aspect of parenting.
PArenthood Theory

It's simply says, that as an infant children wholly depend on their parents to be the decision makers. They have no authority or power, other than a blood curdling scream, to make decisions for themselves about what they will eat, where they will sleep, what they will wear, etc.

But, as a child grows through the stages of the toddler years on up through adolescence and the dreaded teenage years, they are given more authority to make decisions for themselves within the safety net of parental boundaries.

Let me give you an example:

When Griffin was a toddler he was given the option of 2-3 outfits to choose from when getting dressed for school. He could choose within the very limited selection he was provided.

During elementary school his instruction were that he could choose any collared shirt Monday through Thursday from his wardrobe and was free to wear T-shirts on Friday.
This was a Friday and I clearly lost the battle on tube socks vs. ankle socks. It happened a lot. But, I chose my battles wisely. Tube socks- not really a battle worth fighting.
This was a rough morning. It was a battle of the wills. Obviously, he was NOT happy with the rules and wanted to go to school in his robe, helmet, and gloves. But, I stood my parental ground and we came to an agreement.
And all was right with the world again.

We have now entered Junior High and he is allowed nearly full wardrobe creative rights. As long as he is within the school dress code policy. However, I still have the authority to veto purchases when shopping for school clothes because the majority of the time, I am paying for those clothes.
Hot diggety dog
He attempted to get out of the house in this one morning, but I gently reminded him of the time that he pushed the dress code policy rules and wore my mini skirt to school under the pretense that it was no shorter than his finger tips and he ended day in after school detention. He decided to change.

It's my vision and utter hope that as he continues into High School he will have a job earning money of his own. This will lead to full authorized purchasing power in the hands of one diligent and hardworking teenage boy. Guess what? The only position that I will take is to veto anything that is completely inappropriate for the occasion. Like if he wants to wear a speedo to Uncle Bartholomew's wedding, I might take the liberty of strongly encouraging him to re-think his choice of attire lest he be completely alienated from the remainder of the family to sulk in a corner and wonder why in the world his family has left him in such a state of loneliness and despair.

This could be him one day. I'm just saying, I will do everything in my power to help prevent that, but ultimately it is HIS decision.

Let's say a prayer for him now... Amen.

Seriously though, this theory of mine applies to all decision making. How to spend/save money, what to eat/drink, how much time to spend studying and doing homework, how to use his designated free time, and the list goes on and on and on. And the hardest part is sticking with this theory. Being consistent is by far more exhausting than just deciding for him what he's going to order from the menu in a restaurant or who he is going to invite to his birthday party or what he is going to spend his allowance on this next week (or save, SAVE, SAVE that money).

Y'all- I. mess. this. up. all. the. time. Especially when I can see an epic fail in the making. Oh yea, it happens! But I have to continually remind myself its better for that epic fail to happen in my presence where I can assist with piecing his life back together than for it to happen when he's out there on his own in the cold, lonely, cruel, harsh, big, bad world of adulthood.

My heart's hope is that he leaves the nest with skills to make educated decision, has experienced some failures so he understands they aren't the end of the world when he experiences other cruel and unusual punishment dished out by the world, and that he always knows he can come back to his mama for support and encouragement in the form of a hug, cup of coffee, and a chocolate chip cookie. Because let's face it, life is better with coffee and chocolate chip cookies.

Signing off now,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lead Me.. into 2011

Whoa! I just checked the date of my last post. Falling off the blog post wagon happens to the best of us, I guess. But, just like everything else in life, I'll just pick right up and get back on.

This last weekend I was driving home from a brief weekend excursion, reflecting on 2010 and thinking about this new year and all the mysteries it has yet to unveil. Lost in the depths of some serious imagination, I suddenly found myself singing along to an amazing new song by Sanctus Real that was on the radio.

Now, what girl in her right mind doesn't want to be married to that man? No really, he is amazingly handsome, has a beautiful voice, is sensitive and insightful, loves the Lord and above all....acknowledges his screw ups. Seriously, that is the ultimate guy. Am I right ladies?

I kid. I kid. Don't get your britches all in a wad, guys.

But, as I reflected on this song I found myself thinking about the words simply from the perspective of a parent. Unfortunately, I have to admit that my kid doesn't always get my best. Fortunately, I recognize that he deserves my best. But sometimes, I am a little late in recognizing that.

That's why he is allowed to dress up like this:

Play with real toys like this:

Or this:

Oh, I think I got off track a little. Let's take a hard right and get back on course. Where were we? New year, parent issues, Lead Me, teenager with reckless abandon....oh yea, got it now.

The line of the song that reached out and grabbed my heart....

see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're independent
One of the most common compliments that I get about my son is that he so well behaved, mature, and independent for his age. I get a big grin on my face and thank the kind person for their sweet words and recognition and try to remember to always acknowledge that I am blessed and that the Lord was surely looking out for me when he gave me this independent, mature, well-behaved (in public- grins) kid of mine.

But inside, I reel with torment. It's a battle I have fought nearly daily from the time he could empty a garbage can. Because that is exactly what he has been doing. Helping me. As a single parent, I have thrust upon him duties well beyond his years. Don't get me wrong, I love that he can empty trash cans, wash dishes, do laundry, cook meals, put gas in the car, do the yard work, and on and on and on. I'm sure one day, he will impress the socks off a young lady like no other. And at 14 I don't believe he is doing anything more than any other 14 year old should be doing. BUT, he's been at it a heck of a lot longer than he should have had too!!

The following line of the song that moved from my heart to my throat and nearly took the breath out of me was this...

But on the inside, I can hear them saying...
“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?
One of my goals for 2011 is to be that parent that leads him, being faithful and true to the Lord as a steward of this precious gift of a child he has entrusted me with and always seeking His direction in my life so that I can be the leader that Griffin needs me to be... long as he continues to clean his room, do his laundry, and keep up with the yard work. (You know I'm kidding, right? It's a habit I have. Well, sort of.)

Ringing in the New Year,