By nature, I am a fairly philosophical person. I like to know why I am doing what I am doing, and parenting has certainly been no exception. As our girls have gotten older, the day-to-day of parenting has changed. Recently, I wondered how the ideas I contemplated when they were toddlers have stood up as they have grown.
You are your child’s first view of God compelled me to find one sentence I really wanted to strive for in parenting. I chose “gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” This is still extremely relevant with older children but I meditate on it much less.
One of the advantages of parenting older children is that they are trying to understand God and his character better for themselves, so I am able to talk about that directly and engage with them about who God is. When they were babies and toddlers, I did that, but the conversation was mostly one-sided. I was relying much more heavily on the indirect. However, I am also their first view of what it looks like to follow Jesus, so living out gospel principles (do justice, love mercy, walk humbly) is just as important as it was before.
You can not parent by remote control was huge to me with toddlers. I strove to follow up my directions with actions, helping them to comply without much fuss from either of us. e.g. if I said “Don’t touch that,” I would get up and move them away. As children mature, they are better able to listen and control their impulses, so I do not have to get up and make sure they do everything I say every moment.
This maturity makes my life a lot easier, but I think that the general principle is still entirely relevant. Even if they can do what I tell them to do, it is good for all of us to have accountability. I need to follow up and make sure what they can do on their own is done well. I need to stop and take time to engage them throughout the day, so they know how important they are to me.
I am really thankful for the hours we spent talking about children and parenting while pushing Kate in her stroller. These ideas have grown well with the girls, but they are more subsets of those bigger philosophies about what we believe about children and what kind of people we want them to be. Being philosophical about parenting has given me good lenses to evaluate practical everyday strategies, and also made it easy to take or leave those strategies as needed, because the bigger picture ideas provided continuity.
It’s probably time to revisit those big ideas and hone them. We have a long way to go on this journey.
*** There are still several days left to enter the giveaway for my new etsy store (see the post on November 1st) Yay, giveaways! ***