Friday, November 19, 2010

Children, Outside Voices, and Decisions

By now you have all realized that I am a mom to three
daughters. And now that I've been doing the mom thing for the last ten years, I think I can say this with a fair bit of accuracy.

No matter how long you've been a parent, people always have an opinion about the job you are doing. If you are a new parent - then you have officially been warned. It doesn't matter how good a job you are or aren't doing someone is always going to have something to say about the type of parent you are and the job they think you are or are not doing.

Some of my more seasoned friends know that I am telling the truth. Here's the thing though - voices from the outside sometimes carry wisdom and sometimes they are right, but just as often there are always people who think you are not doing a good job.

I currently have two sides in my family who want to have a say about how we parent Sarah. One person thinks we are too easy on Sarah because "gasp" we bought her a dress that she considered risque - one dress and this person thinks Sarah is growing up too fast and we should be tougher on her. For the record - we don't allow dating. Even though Sarah turns 16 on Tuesday any boy who wants to get to know her, must do so under our supervision and if they go out of the house to spend time together, we are going to be there too. So if we don't have the cash to go out, they don't go out together . . . period. Then on the other side of this argument I have a person who thinks we are too hard on her and don't give her enough freedom. Never mind, that at 15 yrs of age, Sarah was wearing make-up, and allowed to go to dances at her private school (it's a pretty conservative school and they are closely chaperoned - no boy girl dancing). Sarah has less freedom than I did at her age, but I had also just moved to a small town and there wasn't a lot to do. Sarah is perfectly free to attend all the youth functions she desires, she was able to attend Prom at her school last year (okay, okay Chris was there as part chaperone and part bouncer, but she got to go as a freshman) because all the high school grades could attend the Prom. At this point I have come to this conclusion - with two sides in my family who are total opposites in the job they think we are doing, then we must be doing something right, because we are kind of a happy medium between super strict and super lax. We have taught Sarah the importance of being modest, we still talk to her about the importance of waiting and allowing God to help you meet your future spouse. In truth, we've probably talked about it to the point where she is tired of hearing it. And goodness, knows I have caught myself as she has grown saying things my mom used to say. For example: There are two types of girls boys date - the ones who party and they have fun with or the type they grow up and marry - which one do you want to be?" Or the one I never thought I would use that was Grandma Taylor's favorite - "There are children in Ethiopia starving and who love that food, so you're going to eat it." Sarah was six years old the first time I said that to her about not eating all of her apple skins. Talk about stopping yourself in your tracks, I had to shake my head and laugh at that one.

As parents you are always going to face people who have something to say. Figure out which person is talking to you - the one who loves you and your child or are they one of those who don't have a lot of nice things to say about others. Once you know where they are coming from, it's easier to take a deep breath and say, "Thank you for your input. I'll take that under advisement." There is no law that states you must do what they say. However, remember sometimes they could be right and might have some special words of wisdom to offer to you - like a pastor or an older and wiser mother-in-law or great grandma. Sometimes they might be wrong, especially if they don't have experience with what you are dealing with or if they don't know the whole story.

The bottom line is that you need follow God's guidance and wisdom. He will lead you the right way and help you discern which voices to listen to and which ones to ignore. When you trust in Him and His ways you can't go wrong - even with so many outside voices chiming in.

I hope you all have a good weekend.

Love in Christ,

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