My heart struggles on a daily basis when I am around other peoples' children. Children are so precious, so innocent, and so beautiful -- the world is so new to them -- new ideas, discoveries and concepts are being thrown at them at such a pace that I can't even comprehend. And while all this is going on and these sweet innocents are growing up our world is getting more and more cruel and selfish. My heart aches for children. Why? Because couples selfishly want children -- sometimes without even thinking about how hard it will be and how much of themselves they will have to give -- and then once they have the children they don't give them the time, teaching, and love they deserve. And this literally kills me inside. I want to gather up all the children I see being mistreated and give them the love and guidance they are missing. And maybe I'm weird. Maybe I'm weird because no aspect of being a mother surprised me. I expected it all. I expected the sleepless nights, the less personal time, less time with my husband, the overall involvement of caring for and teaching a child. I'm in NO way saying it's easy--but I knew it wouldn't be. And I expect when this next little angel arrives that I won't be surprised either. People tell me "oh, you just wait until you have two". Oh, I'm sorry, I think I will still parent the same, still give oodles of time and love to both children. And I can bet you very soon after he is born we will be back to being on time when we have appointments or even play dates at other people's houses.
Now back to parenting...
No, I'm not a perfect parent. I don't think anyone is. But when you parent selflessly and with love as your main drive I think you're on the right track. And that's what I do. When "Ralphie" needs me--I stop what I am doing 95% of the time (as long as it's reasonably possible) and go to him or I tell him just a minute, take just a minute and go to him.
I take the time to explain things to him. Since when is "no", or lies, or threats the best way of teaching our children? Truth is, it's not -- there is no intelligent argument that would prove otherwise -- at least not to me...and probably not to Heavenly Father either. In my opinion it's the lazy, selfish way out. Your child's not eating their vegetables at dinner? Do you scream at them? Do you tell them if they eat them they will be prettier (or other similar, ridiculous lies)? Do you threaten them with horrible consequences or additional lies? Or do you take the time to explain to them why their vegetables are good? How once they try them they might like them? How it provides important things for their body to help them grow? Yes, this takes time. And yes you may have to repeat yourself...
But seriously, why isn't this the route more parents use? Why does lying and threatening with more lies seem to be the first instinct for parents? It angers me, honestly. these beautiful children deserve more -- they deserve more love, more compassion, more patience, more teaching, more understanding.
Lying and cruel threats are never acceptable. It's just not. You might ask...what about when kids ask about things they aren't ready to hear the truth about? Well, most of the time you can tell them a small part of the whole truth (with no lies added) and that's all they needed -- this is true for those scary questions like "where do babies come from" and death and etc. I found one article with some great points I wanted to share that kind of go along with this:
"One way to know if your child is ready to hear the truth: Try him. Introduce the information slowly, gauge the reaction, and proceed or retreat as necessary. Be as honest as you can be while making sure he feels safe, and knows how a situation might relate to his own life, and how it may not. Kids only want to know what an event or circumstance means to them." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peggy-drexler/when-its-ok-to-lie-to-kid_b_2796415.html
And you might ask about Santa, the Easter bunny etc...well, I'm an honest believer of the wonderfulness of believing in Santa and the magic and imagination it brings to kids. But trying to explain that would be hard so the same article as above had a good way of phrasing it that I totally agree with and a few other good points:
"Acceptable lies: The ones that serve to protect children from information that would hurt them; the ones that help foster imagination and belief in an age-appropriate way, like in the case of Santa; or lies that that aren't exactly lies, but some small withholding of the truth, because you fear they don't yet have the capacity to deal with or understand the facts. Keep in mind, though, that kids can be surprisingly perceptive and often understand the basic themes of a situation -- hurt, sadness, happiness -- even as they may not understand some of the complexities. Jane's eight-year-old Ned, for example, could understand that his parents were having a disagreement, but Jane knew he didn't need to know about what. Talking about it later, however, became a nice teaching moment -- everyone has disagreements. A child doesn't need to know all the details, but if they suspect there's something you're not telling them, they may tell themselves that they're the problem."
But one more note on Santa and his pals...if we flat out asked my mom if he was real, I think she asked us, "do you really want to know?" and then when we said yes, she told us. No matter our age. That's another important point about the Santa stories. If they flat out ask and you lie (even if you want them still to believe) that's probably not going to help them down the road and might even lead to their doubt in real things you've told them about like God.
And on a slightly different but similar track...Want to hear something crazy? "Ralphie" has never told us "no" defiantly until this past week at three. That's right. Believe it. I hear children at 18 months or less angrily shouting "no" at their parents. Do you want to know why I think it took him longer than other children? Well, I'll tell you anyway. It's because we don't tell him no. But let me expand on that before you assume we give him anything he wants or let him get away with murder. When he was tiny--long before he could talk, we decided from our own upbringing, from books, and from our hearts and prayer that when "Ralphie" was doing something he shouldn't we wouldn't just tell him "no" and leave it at that. No we started -- before he could probably even understand us -- to EXPLAIN to him about why what he was doing was bad, dangerous or what have you. He tries to put his finger in an outlet, we didn't just say, "no", we said, "Ralphie don't put your finger in there. It's very dangerous. You could get hurt." (using whatever words were age appropriate). We caught "Ralphie" coloring on the wall -- we didn't yell no, we told him, "please don't do that. It won't come off and it will make the walls not lookyucky" or something to that effect.
I asked my mom recently if she ever heard us tell use the word no. She said she couldn't think of one time. Now he says it frequently. I think he learned it from other children, honestly.
Another thing that hurts me when I hear or see it happening to children -- things that I consider physical or emotional abuse. Lately I hear of this most when it come to potty training. I won't go into specifics because I'm not trying to point fingers or anything, I honestly just needed to express my feelings and and frustrations and sort them out. But some of the ways people "punish" or react to their child's potty training weaknesses or failures really upsets me. Research even shows these are BAD ways to teach children to be potty trained, and yet, parents still opt for them because they are easy with faster results...but I promise you there some emotion damage is done (research proves it) and that whether or not it's subconscious, it's there.
I hope no one feels I am pointing figures. I was just so saddened and frustrated lately that I had to express myself -- I just needed to express the frustrations and sadness in my heart. I hope that it reminds people of the precious souls our children are and how much love they have and need.
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