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Why No One Ever Asks You for Parenting Advice – Reality Check


Kris WolfeClarksville, TN – My friend called me for parenting advice the other day. I was in shock. She said, “I had to call you; you’re the only one who’d understand.” Ooh, I thought, this should be good. She continues, “Charlie (not his real name) got in trouble for fighting today and I don’t know if I should punish him.”

She goes on to describe her dilemma. She wants to teach him right from wrong. She wants him to be a good person. She also doesn’t want to punish him unfairly if he was the one being bullied (which her son claims.) She wants to be a good mom. She is a good mom. But good parenting isn’t always clear-cut.

Before I had children, I had illusions, rather delusions of how I would parent and how perfect my children would be. I also have romanticized my personal awesomeness as a child.

I haven’t asked my parents point-blank if I was a turd. I actually don’t want to know the answer.  I suspect I won’t like it. As a mom, things were smooth as silk.

Then, shortly after my first son’s 20th month on Earth, I came to this conclusion: I don’t know what I am doing. This kid is smarter than me.

I read a ton of books. I listened to parenting lessons on CD.  I tried a myriad of tips. But all in all, I have never felt like a rock star parent.  I don’t think I am bad, but parenting advice, in my opinion should only come from parents with these kids: kids who make the honor roll, who keep their shoes where they belong, who don’t bite/hit/curse, who like writing thank you notes, who always want to go to church, who excel at sports, who like wearing clothes with buttons and collars, who say yes ma’am and yes sir to grown up’s instead of staring at them like they just swallowed a skunk. I don’t have those kids.

My kids are very, very different from each other, so I can’t lump them together. I have one who doesn’t like to pray aloud, who is very rude at times, who fails tests, who is mean to his brother pretty regularly, and who eats chips in his bed. My other son is easily distracted, can cry because he dropped a penny, always argues about brushing his teeth and was once called “one of two worse kids in his entire grade” by the teaching staff (not to my face of course which is why I am writing this to you outside of jail walls.)

That said, you can see why people aren’t like, “Hey Kris, you should totally write a book about parenting.”  I would assume that the apocalypse is near or that they had been eaten by an alien.

Having said that, I know I do some things right as a mom. And when my kids turn out to be something out-of-this-world special, and mark my words they will, here are the few things I will look back on and think, “Thank God I was committed to that.”

  • I never, ever lie to them – They know that every solitary word that comes out of my mouth is the God’s honest truth, as I know it. They never have to doubt it. I have never deceived them, and I never will.
  • I treat them like individuals – I don’t expect my shy kid to pray aloud. I don’t expect my daydreamer to tell me what he learned today. I always think it’s funny when people say, “I don’t know why they (their children) are so different; I parented them the same.” First of all, how is that even possible? Second of all, why? I don’t even treat my two dogs the same. We have house rules, and everyone has to follow them, but my children are unique, and I will treat them as such.
  • I pray with them. I pray for them. – I grew up with love, but I didn’t grow up with prayer. So I don’t know the impact it might have on my boys, but I can see what it does to them now: it connects them to me in a deeply personal and irreplaceable way that is so difficult to describe. When they hear me (and my husband) pray for them and their needs/wants/future, their hearts are softened. Their spirits are humbled. And for 42.5 seconds, all is right in our world.
  • I will give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. ­– When given two choices, doubt and trust, I will choose trust. I personally know the pain of being doubted, and of my actions being automatically perceived as negative even when my heart was good. This led me down a very dark path, and I will not lead my children down that path if I have any say-so.  I would rather be snowed than to darken the heart of a child.

One thing I have learned: parents teach what they value. I like a clean room, but I don’t demand it daily. I like good grades and love a good education, but I have to know when I have done all I can to motivate my children.

I love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and body, but I don’t force my older son to go to middle school worship on Wednesdays (although I want him to want it so badly) because I don’t want him run from church on the first Sunday of his 18th year and never look back.

But some things are non-negotiable in our home: Faith, respect, and love.

  • As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). We study the word often and we bury it in our hearts. If my son misses a month of Wednesday nights at church, I will fill in the gaps with love, faith and devotion.
  • I will always demand respect from my children and for my children. This is a struggle for us right now (hello ages 10 and 13), but we will not rest until they “get it” even if we die trying. That is our commitment to the world, their future wives, and their future children.
  • I love my boys with all I have to give. I married my (2nd) husband because he loves them too and leads them well. They will never want for love as long as there is a breath left in my body.  They will never say, “There just wasn’t much love in our home.”

With all of our imperfections, struggles and “potential areas of growth” as a family I can tell you this: our boys are going to be okay. “Okay” might sound like I am settling. Trust me, I am not; I need not. I trust that God has a plan for our boys and the men they will become. I will not cease in loving them. I will love God obviously and sincerely with my words and actions (not because I am perfect but because I am redeemed). I will pray for them daily. I will model respect and show them the godliest marriage I possibly can.

And in the days to come, I will reflect on their generously God-given attributes of humor, energy, passion, junior entrepreneurship, love of Christ, awkward dancing, addiction to chocolate, obsession with the year 9045, love of Mindcraft and LeBron tennis shoes. I will love them for the people they are right now.

I can’t tell you how to raise your kids so don’t ask. But I am going to raise mine with the instinct that God gave me. It’s all I’ve got, and it’s taken us this far.

About Kris Wolfe




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