A few years ago, when we had only had Madi for about a year or so, an older couple with a large, grown family gave us some parenting advice.
They told us we were being to strict. That we needed to loosen up our boundaries and rules for our child. They said they had successfully raised a boat-load of kids and therefore knew what they were talking about, so we should listen to their sound parenting advice. We were doing it wrong and needed to mend our ways. If we wanted our kids to be godly, we needed to let them be freer and play more and get dirty more and pretty much do what they wanted to do.
Now, 3 or 4 years later, I am so very thankful we DIDN’T listen to them.
We almost did. We thought, well, they are older, in a position of authority, have a bunch of kids, and they seemed to have it all together. We talked and prayed and in the end decided that what we were doing was actually working. The out of control, impulsive, destructive child was slowly becoming calmer, and more peaceful. She was learning that life has boundaries and needed to be followed. She was learning right from wrong, how to stop a think for a moment before acting, and that there are consequences for our actions… good and bad. She was learning that structure and balance was a good thing. Learning that it’s not all work, but it’s not all play either. Learning that structure and schedules were helpful. Learning to have true fun and learning to laugh and have joy. She was learning that life is good and she was loved and protected and cared for. So why change that?
As I look at my 12-year-old sweet girl (who, like any child has issues and sometimes has a stinky attitude and still does things she knows are wrong) I am thankful that we trusted the parenting instincts God gave us. I am thankful we prayed over our child and for her so we would know how best to deal with her. She loves the Lord, wants to see people come to know Him, and has a heart of compassion that I love. She’s not perfect, and I know I am FAR from a perfect parent, but with God and my husband, I am striving to be the best mom I can be and raise my child with as much love and care as possible… which does include discipline!
Get parenting advice is sometimes necessary… there have been times I have asked people I trust and respect as parents for advice, and I treasure that counsel.
But unsolicited parenting advice is almost never welcome, and (from my perspective) usually not quite on the mark.
As I look back and think about the couple that gave us the advice, I can see that they didn’t really have it all together and their kids aren’t perfect, not all of them are actively seeking the Lord, but that’s ok. They did what they felt was best. They raised their children the best way they knew how and God will bless them for it.
Not every family is the same. Not every kid is the same. And unless you have walked a day in someone’s shoes, don’t judge them. (Especially when you are dealing with an adopted or foster child or a child with special needs… that’s a WHOLE different kettle of fish).
So, my encouragement for you is to trust your instincts about your children. Pray for them and over them and about them. Ask for Godly wisdom, and if necessary, seek wise counsel. You know whats right for your child, even if it’s different than you are used to, or different from your other children. God entrusted you with one of His treasured possessions… it’s a daunting task, but one He is equipping you to handle!!
I’m not an expert. I’m not perfect. I’m just a mom learning as she goes, but I am so thankful I listened to the Lord concerning Madi.
I would still like to learn to yell less, listen more, and have a LOT more patience… so I asked the Lord for that and strive to obtain those things.
So that’s my two cents worth of parenting advice. 🙂