Uncertainty should be the synonym listed for the word parenting in a thesaurus. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another, if not daily. What should I do in this situation? Should I let my baby cry a little at night or comfort her? Should I watch as my child tries to walk on a log that he most likely will fall off? Should I allow my older child to skip his nap one day when I know my younger one still needs one? Does my child need an extra year of preschool? In a moment of frustration I said, “No TV for a month.” Do I really need to stick to that?
Yes, parenting is a tricky proposition. We are constantly making decisions that hopefully fit our child (each child – because every one of our children are so different.) Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not stray from it.” So, God, why didn’t you send an instruction manual with every child. What exactly is “the way to go” for this specific child?
Today I gave a tour to a family. It will be their oldest child’s first school experience and the mother was very nervous about it all. Our conversation brought back situations from the beginning of the school year. I often tell parents who are themselves a little hesitant about their child’s first school experience to put on a brave face. I encourage positive talk about school and confident assurances that the child will have a great day. I have seen brave mamas drop their child off with a smile only to tear up once out of her child’s sight. It is a huge milestone for both the child and parent.
As a parent, I questioned my parenting decisions often. Allie, my oldest child, was very strong-willed. I remember a multitude of half hour to even hour long screaming sessions about the smallest things. I vividly remember asking her to shut the back door for me. She refused with great passion. I followed through giving her options of when and how she could do what I requested. I did that but still insisted that she please do as I asked. An hour later, as I listened to her continued cries and screams, I doubted my parenting decision. I did this away from her and I think I called my sister to reaffirm my decision. When I spoke with her – I bluffed it! I acted as though I had total confidence in the consequence she was facing. I would love to say this single episode was a changing point for us – it wasn’t. So, I faced many more years of questions and I bluffed it – a lot!
I could list for hours the times I moved forward as though I was confident when inside I was PRAYING I was doing the right thing. I think it’s okay to do this. Yes, I do think there are times we can let our children know we made a mistake and talking through the situation come up with a mutually approved plan. Doing this shows our children that we are human. It shows we care about their input as well. In general, though, I say “Bluff if you have to.” I believe children want and NEED to know (well at least believe) you have everything under control. I think that is part of the reason children test us. Our children (some more than others) need to know to their core that we’ve got this covered.
So, you don’t have all the answers. I didn’t either. It’s okay. I also believe God gives us wonderful parenting instincts. I believe God will guide us if we just ask through prayer. We are inundated with blogs and websites, articles and tv show experts with all the right ways to do things. Yes, listen, take in what speaks to you, develop some new habits, try new things but in the end, trust yourself. If you can’t truly trust yourself, then – Bluff it!
(Credit for photo is unknown)