Sunday, April 10, 2016

Home as Sanctuary: Building our Children Up, Not Tearing Them Down

My latest thoughts on parenting children. Life is a lesson for me. I wish I had the answers and did it all perfectly. I don't. But I try to use the nuggets of advice I learn along the way. Here's one via Divorced Moms.

Building Our Children Up, Not Tearing Them Down. A Candid Chat

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April 08, 2016
Several days ago, I was watching TV and caught a tiny piece of an interview with mega-church pastor and best-selling author, Joel Osteen. I am not a follower of his, know almost nothing about him, and have never read any of his books. But something he said struck me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. This is not a direct quote, but it went something like this: People are figuratively beat up all day in life, they don’t need to come to church to hear more of it. In his ministry, he tries to build people up. A quick Google search and I found one of his quotes:
“I don’t like to beat people down. They need to be lifted up.”
This snippet came at a really crucial time for me as I raise my two daughters. My oldest, who is almost 16-years old, does not handles stress that well, and she has a lot of it. With massive amounts of homework, a very tough academic schedule, cheerleading practice three times per week, soccer practice and games two to three times per week, and a Sunday where we all head off to church for an hour, she is kept hopping busy. Add to that, in the winter she goes snowboarding at least once, if not twice, per weekend. She applied for an internship/summer job with the U.S. Forest Service (we don’t know if she’ll be selected yet), we have several family trips planned, and she is thinking about taking a couple of classes on-line to get ahead, she is really stressed out. Sometimes she breaks down and cries. Insomnia sets in. My younger daughter, too, has a busy schedule, though she spends more time trying to (creatively) get out of things instead of taking them head-on, like her sister.
Though I have mellowed since my cancer diagnosis in 2012, I still have traces of my Type A personality. I can be like a drill-sergeant at times, barking out orders to my daughters.
“Is your room clean?”
“Did you take care of the cat?”
“How is your homework? Let me see it.”
“Pull up your grades on-line and let’s take a look.”
“Did you put your dishes away?”
“What are your plans this weekend and with whom? What time are you going to be home and what are you wearing?”
…And most of these questions or requests come one after the other, quick, with an expectations for an answer RIGHT NOW. Sort of like my old and very intimidating boss used to do.
After hearing the Joel Osteen quote, however, I wondered what I could be doing better that would leave my children feeling more up-lifted? I cannot control the world, and I can’t take away all of their stress, and sometimes out there, they are "beaten down." And part of becoming an adult is learning, as a child, how to handle age-appropriate problems and living with their consequences. I only want to intentionally step in to ease the burden of life just “so much.” But I do want to provide a home environment where my daughters feel loved and supported once they step through the front door. I want home to be a refuge, a place of peace (or as much peace as a family can ever offer) and acceptance.