Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bedtime doesn't have to be a power struggle?

My littlest angel didn't want to go to sleep tonight. After an hour and a half of telling her to go to bed, placing her gently in her bed, and yelling at my poor, sweet hubby to help me put her into bed, I was beginning to think she was going to pull an all nighter. Finally, after putting her into bed for the LAST time, and hearing her sweet little cries, I lifted her into my arms, carried her to the couch, and sang/rocked her to sleep. 5 minutes! and she was out. Then something clicked. I can't stand to hear my children cry and hate to see them upset about anything. The thing is, MOST of the time all they need is me. Yes I was tired, and I wanted to relax, and I wanted to watch TV, and I wanted to play on the computer...see a theme here? I was putting what I wanted before what she needed. I was the one making this into a power struggle, not her. She knew what she needed, but I wasn't listening. I would say that most, if not all, power struggles can be avoided if we (the adults) will put our children first and try to figure out what it is that they're in need of. 5 minutes! Seriously?! 5 minutes was all she needed of me at that time. We, as adults, feel the need to unwind after a long day so why would we think that our children would be any different? 5 minutes! Oh, I felt so selfish and guilty. I know my littles sleep better after some quality cuddle time, so why on earth didn't it occur to me sooner? So, yes, grace extends to bedtime. And this gentle mom-in-training is still learning. Thank you, God for using my sweet babies to teach me something new. Now, I can relax and unwind.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Big Emotions

Today was not a particularly graceful day in our house. My sweet little 6 year old started out his morning fighting with his 14 year old brother. Then, the second he stepped in the door after school his emotions were bubbling over. "No you can't play the Wii right now." Big tears. "Watching TV from the time you walk in the door until you go to bed is not an option." Bigger tears. "Please pick up LEGO Zurg before the dog eats him." This ended with "I hate Zurg!" and more big tears. At first I was overly frustrated and wanted to scream. Then, I tried to look at it from his point of view. So instead of locking myself in my room and crying into my pillow, I brought him into my room,locked the 2 of us away from everyone else and let him have his emotions. Turns out he had a rough day at school. No recess and he got in trouble for talking during a movie. Well, duh! It has to be hard for a very active 6 year old to be stuck in the classroom all day without being able to run out some of that energy outside. And then to expect him to sit still during a movie? Yeah, that's not gonna happen. My kids are rarely quiet during movies unless it holds their full attention. This is another reason I'm so excited to begin homeschooling next year. In public school, you can't take each individual's daily emotions into account. It would be mass chaos and you could never keep to a schedule. But once he's home, I'll be able to adjust our day to meet his, and his little sister's, needs.

But for now they're tucked into their beds fast asleep and mommy gets a few minutes to herself. Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't STEP on me!

A biological child grows in a mother's womb;
an adopted child grows in a mother's heart.

I've started writing this a few times and am having trouble getting all my thoughts out. I originally wanted to say, "I HATE 'step'-parents" but decided that may come across a bit rough? However, that statement still holds mostly true for me. I hate that the word "step" is too often accurate for the way the new parent/child treat one another. We see it all the time in books, movies, and on TV. You have the new step-mother and step-child both vying for the husband/dad’s attention, stepping all over one another to make themselves #1 in his eyes. Now this is somewhat understandable for a child. After all, their whole world has been turned upside down and this new person has taken a permanent spot in their lives. But the new step-parent is an ADULT. An adult should never wage war with a child, rather they should try to consider the child’s feelings and understand the difficult change in said child’s life. If you’re going to make the decision to marry someone who has a child, you need to prepare yourself to be a parent. Instead, I see many who think that they just have to “put up” with this child when they’re at their house and until they turn 18. Open your eyes people! This child, this PERSON, is going to be in your life for the rest of your life (assuming you hold your wedding vows to be true.) You should be equipping yourself with all the information you can find regarding raising a child, particularly a step-child. You should be reaching out to others who have made this change successfully and even joining support groups, if you can find a trustworthy one. You need to be discussing the way your potential spouse raises and disciplines his child/ren, and make sure that you are on board with their efforts. Assuming the ex-spouse is still in the picture, you need to be able to at least respect them in the fact that they gave birth/fathered this new child you’re about to be co-raising and make a conscious effort in never using derogatory statements about them in front of the child/ren. If you’re not willing and able to accept this change, and I will admit it is a big change, and make the appropriate adjustments, then perhaps this is not the person you should be marrying.  

I’m going to take it one step further and say that becoming a step-parent should be no different than becoming an adoptive parent. Think about it, really think about it. When a person adopts a child, they bring them into their lives, and their hearts, and love them just as much as if they were their own biological child. They don’t resent this child for the love and attention they receive from the other parent. They don’t, or at least they shouldn’t, see them or love them any different than they would a biological child. Instead, they love and cherish every moment they spend with that child. They revel in every milestone they reach, and they’re present for every important event in that child’s life. Not because they’re required to be, but because they truly want to be a part of every moment, be they good or bad. Step-parents should be no different.

Make the change before your marriage and you will have a much better chance of making a smoother transition. You need to take the time to know the child whose life you’re going to be a part of. Spend time with them; get to know who they are and what makes them happy, mad, sad, etc. Spend time with them not only with your potential spouse, but alone as well. Introduce them to your family. After all they are going to be a part of this child’s life as well. Make sure your family knows that this child is to be welcomed with as much love as a child you were to give birth to and make sure they know you expect them to treat them no differently than they would any biological children. After all, most families have no problem accepting a new daughter/son-in-law, aunts/uncles, mother/father-in-laws, etc. If they have no problem accepting a new adult into their lives, they should have no problem accepting a new child.

Most importantly, love this new child. After all, they are a part of your future spouse and therefore worthy of love.

Blessings to all who have successfully made this transition and prayers for those embarking on a new journey.