Parenting When I Don’t Know What To Do
We all hit those moments. You know the ones. The ones where you have NO idea what you’re supposed to do.
Here’s a sampling from my own mom experiences:
- My oldest, at 2 years old, (who I was convinced was practically perfect in every way) reared back and hit me in the face–hard– in the middle of Hobby Lobby.
- What to do about sleepovers? It’s easy if I don’t know the parents, but what about if it’s “his BEST friend?” and “the only time they’re ever going to do this?”
- My 3-year-old hit his not-even-1-year-old brother.
- When one of our kids was consistently bullying another of our kids.
- One of my sons told me he was on top of chores in a particular area, and then (after a few weeks because of busyness of life) when I went to evaluate it, I was appalled at the poor state of affairs.
- Sorting out who can go to who’s house, when, and under what circumstances
- When my newly-potty-trained 2-year-old son showed his privates to a friend’s baby. On purpose.
Many of those left me baffled and unsure of what to do. In each situation I remember feeling like, WHAT????? IS????? HAPPENING???????
What do we do when we hit moments we’ve never thought through? How do we handle these new situations?
Here are a few things I do:
#1- I seek counsel from the wisest person I know in this area.
The wisest mom you know about how to give a self-controlled, non-angry, effective spanking to your 2-year-old may not be the wisest mom you know, 5-10 years later, when it comes time to think through your sleepovers policy.
I think of a woman who is strong in this area where I feel weak— SHE’s the one I ask. And before I follow advice from someone, I evaluate the fruit. For example:
- If it’s sibling relationships I’m wanting to understand and grow wiser in, I consider: do their kids have good relationships with one another?
- If it’s sorting out when/how your growing kids will time spent away from the family, I look to the person giving the advice and the closeness of the parent/child relationship as well as whether their teen seems entitled and disconnected or well-adjusted.
- If it’s what to do when your toddler rejects food, look at how agreeable their kids are in regard to food, and in general.
#2- I try to pull my head out of the details of the situation and consider what big-picture principles are at work.
Sometimes we can overcomplicate things and if we pull back, we see that there are big-picture principles at work.
Yes, I felt hormonally crazy-protective toward my baby when my 3-year-old hits him, and yet, hitting and anger is a situation common to man. While it felt SO shocking, it’s really not. Anger and strife between siblings has occurred since the very first two siblings.
Very often, once I get out of the shock/surprise, there are almost always biblical principles to draw from. In that situation, my son needed to be:
- instructed about what to do when he’s frustrated
- reminded of those instructions the next time he began ramping up toward anger
My emotions would have had me ignore the basic principles at work in this situation, but picking my head up out of the details (and hormone-charge protective instinct) helped me to choose a bigger perspective.
While my emotions were telling me that this was a shocking, horrifying display of wickedness and hatred (and WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO MY SWEET, BROTHER-PROTECTING SON??!), the facts were that my son had done something utterly typical among humans– gotten mad at his brother– and done something sinful about it. He needed correction, discipline, and instruction.
#3- I consider what advice I would give if someone came to me with this exact question.
Over the last 10+ years, I’ve participated, to varying degrees, in two online message board forums. They were focused on homeschooling and parenting. Doing so gave me the gift of learning about areas I might not have (yet) encountered in our home.
So when I encounter things I’ve never encountered before, I think back a lot to those forums, and the observations made from various wise mamas, and I fuse that together with whatever I have observed/experienced in life. Drawing on these experiences, I piece together what would be the wisest, best, most biblical advice I would offer to a friend if she came to me with this exact question. That often gets me going (at least for the short-term) in the right direction.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: What do YOU do when you don’t know what to do?
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