Monday, September 21, 2009

Parenting the "Hard" Way

The other day someone very close to me commented that my style of parenting (quite involved) is what's responsible for most of the difficulties I face day-to-day. This person holds somewhat to the Victorian view that children should be in the background; that toys should be sequestered in bedrooms and never come out; that children should not be allowed in the kitchen; that parents shouldn't have to remove nice things from low places where little hands can (and do) reach; and that parents should never give reasons why they demand or disallow what they do.

I will admit that several of the struggles I face daily would be solved by following this person's suggestions (whom I love and respect dearly). Toys only and ever in the bedroom would do wonders for the overall appearance of my house. Never having my kids in the kitchen would indeed help it stay cleaner. I would definitely have more time for leisure pursuits.
Yet I believe my greatest calling, aside from being the best wife I can, is to be a great mother. That, to me, means a hands-on mom. So yes, I am parenting the "hard" way, but who said the "easy" way is better?
After reflecting on what this person said and running it through my critical thinking lens, here are some conclusions I reached about why parenting the "hard" way is the right way for our family:
  1. A close parent-child relationship creates a strong family identity, which is less likely to lead to rebellion through the teen years and later in life (as Ted Tripp wrote about in Shepherding a Child's Heart)
  2.  Personally, who does not wish their parents would have spent more one-on-one time with them in    early (or later) childhood? I know my husband and I both wish this, and we don't want our kids growing up wishing the same thing.
  3. How can we follow God's command to train up our children in the way they should go when we are doing our thing and they are doing their thing all day, everyday?
  4. If like my grandpa said, these are the years I'll want to go back to someday, I want to live with as few regrets as possible. That means making lots of memories with my kids each day.
  5. Molding clay into a masterpiece is very hands-on and labor intensive.
So yes, the toys may be all over my house and little hands have left tell-tale traces throughout the kitchen, and I really don't have much time to myself (but I'm blogging right?!), but I am so grateful I have this time to be with--really be with--my best blessings in life!

"O mothers of young children, I bow before you in reverence. Your work is most holy. You are fashioning the destinies of immortal souls. The powers folded up in the little ones that you hushed to sleep in your bosoms last night are powers that shall exist for ever. You are preparing them for their immortal destiny and influence. Be faithful. Take up your sacred burden reverently. Be sure that your heart is pure and that your life is sweet and clean." --J.R. Miller, The Family

(Read more of what people are grateful for at Heavenly Homemakers)


  1. Great book recommendation -- Shepherding a Child's Heart -- not legalistic parenting, but not willy-nilly parenting either. Rules and order with heart and relationship. Get rid of one or the other and chaos ensues! I think you elluded to something like this in one of your first posts.

    Sounds like maybe your friend was trying to help with your frustrations but in a way that wouldn't fit well with your current lifestyle. I am sure there are small changes you can make to eliminate frustrations without revamping your entire parenting philosphy?? After all, none of us have arrived yet at the ideal wife or mom, at least I haven't! Just ask Phil and the kids.

    I was recently reminded by a very wise woman that as mothers (and wives) we voice our frustrations and truly do want things to change, but often times not ready to make the sacrifice necessary to implement the change. I can easily fall into the guilty category of complaining about such and such, but deep down knowing that if I want peace of mind in this area, I may have to get out of my confort zone. She also reminded me that constructive criticism can be a gift. (Doesn't usually feel like it at the time, but then again, the times when I am humble to receive instruction, I am almost always blessed!)

    With the recent addition of homeschooling, my life has been turned upside down in some ways and has been incredibly blessed in other ways. Bottom line for me to attempt not to lose my temper is to not have unrealistic expectations about how the day is going to go. I set a goal, and try to reach the goal, but realize that life happens in the middle of it. Kind of like when Savannah took her diaper off, stepped in the poop and walked through the family room. Lovely! At least all our Friday night small group guests enjoyed a freshly steamed-cleaned carpet!!! HA HA

    Okay, so you need to quit writing all these posts because I haven't had time to update my blog because I have been commenting on yours. :) Sorry for the book sized post this time.

  2. I agree that parenting needs to be hands on. I must admit though that I only keep a basket of toys that I rotate visible in out living room. The rest are hidden in a toy cupboard. (Still in the living room though). Please don't think that in saying that I am a neat and organized person with a tidy house. So not me. It is also my goal to make great memories with my children. Have you read the book Homespun Memories for the Heart by Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale, Trish Smith. It has so many cool ideas in it for making special memories with your family.
    Bravo for being an involved mom!

  3. Great post, I have been or am in the place you are in so it really stuck out to me. My house might be a disaster but I don't want my kids memories being of me cleaning I want them to remember me being with them and having fun.

  4. What a timely post! I start a class about "Shepherding a Child's Heart in just a few weeks. This time is so fleeting. We need to do what is best in this busy season of our lives. How are we to speak about the things of the Lord to our children when we wake, walk, work, etc if we aren't interacting with them?

  5. I would not trade the messes my boys and I have made in the kitchen. I know I would love to have the Better Homes and Garden house, but it would be missing the imprint my monkeys leave. Hands on parenting is just our way and I am enjoying this season of my life very much!

  6. My dad held my son when saying goodbye yesterday, and bent down to smell (yes, smell!) his baby sweetness. He then said, "They say this empty nesting is great, that it is a great time. But they are wrong. You are in the best time. The best time is when the babies are young. You are a beautiful mama. I am proud of you."
    Yes, the tears streamed down my face!
    Blessings to you and your awareness that this time is short.

  7. Yesterday before I left for work I went around the kitchen table and buried my face in each one of my little boy's hair and breathed deeply (and my wife's hair too). They all had their own smell and hair texture, and though they didn't know it it put a lump in my throat. They grow so fast.

    But each season will have it's own wonderful blessings, so though I wish they would always stay so small, I know it's only one phase of our beautiful lives together.

    May I be so blessed to do that to my children's children.

  8. Oh Jodi!! But at least you steam cleaned your carpet :) (I just try to use spot shot and scrub until the carpet looks off-white again, ha ha) :)
    Your comments really got me thinking--we'll have to chat soon!
    I was really touched by the anonymous comment too. That's so much like what my grandpa said to me the other day. Helps me appreciate the hard days a bit more :)