Blessed wrote a comment in the last post about how she wished she could have learned earlier from people like Dr. Purvis and parented her kids differently. I wish I could have learned earlier too, for both my bio and my adopted kids! The parenting journey is full of decisions and we make so many mistakes along the way. Sometimes I wish I could go back and have a do-over!
Fortunately, most kids are pretty resilient, and bounce back pretty well, even when we make mistakes. I made so many with my oldest children, yet they turned out great.
I was too strict with my first child when he was younger. I taught him from age two to not ask me for anything at a store. We were on a very strict budget and had no money for extras. We would leave the store if he asked for anything and fussed about it. I was happy with how I trained him until he was about ten and I realized that I had taught him too well. He wouldn't even tell me he wanted a Slinky when I offered to get him a toy at a flea market! I was raising him to be very legalistic. I was afraid that would carry over in his relationship with God, and keep him from praying for his needs. So I had to teach my son that it is good to ask us and God for things.
Now, when I find myself saying no too many times to a child's requests, I make sure I say yes here and there. I did it this weekend. I had been saying no to Ms. D's requests for junk food all weekend. For some reason she wanted comfort food and to her, comfort food is fast food. So this evening I let her pick out some sugar cereal when we were at the store. The nutrition mama within me was cringing, but I made the decision to say yes to something. It may not have been the best decision, but it seemed to help her to see that I care about her.
It is more difficult to raise the two younger ones. They didn't have their basic needs met when they were young, were bounced from home to home, and were affected by fetal alcohol. Because of that, there is a much smaller window of good parenting. A little mistake can make big differences in their lives. I want to do things perfectly for them, yet I know I can't.
The perfectionist in me doesn't like to admit that I may not be able to do this parenting gig without mistakes. My littlest ones may not end up as nicely as my bio kids in the world's eyes, no matter how well I do my job. And that is changing the way I see myself, God, and others.
I'm learning as I go. I'm learning to parent kids in a completely different way. I'm learning what grace is. I'm learning about unconditional love. I'm learning to let go of perfectionism, legalism, and judgment of myself and others. I'm learning that I can be loved unconditionally, even as I learn to love my children unconditionally. I'm learning that relationship comes before legalism. I'm learning to truly love.