#4 – Parenting is not “one size fits all”

I remember sometime after we had Coco and Princess, thinking we had parenting by the tail.  Sure there were things that came up that were new, but we felt pretty comfortable handling them.  Coco has Beautiful’s personality and Princess has mine so we could relate to each child on a variety of levels.  This made it easier to figure out how to work with the child through their various challenges.

I am convinced God gave us Thunder to show us just how little we really knew.  He is 1/2 Samoan so I knew he was going to be athletic and large.  I expected he would do things early and he lived up to those expectations by learning to walk very young (just before he turned 10 months).  However, I had no idea just what those ramifications would be until THE DAY.  Shortly after he learned to walk, Beautiful and I were in the living room reading and talking while Thunder was napping.  We heard a loud thump and then he came toddling down the hall into the living room.  We were in shock.  Somehow, our 10 month old son had escaped his crib (without injury) and was wandering around.  We were baffled.

We took him back to the crib and asked him to show us how he got out.  He proceeded to put climb the corner by putting one foot on the side and one foot on the end slats and using the pressure to simply walk up the side.  Then crawled across the changing table (a dresser) and jumped down to the floor, landing on his feet.

That was the day, I knew the Lord was serving me notice.  That was the day I knew that parenting was not going to be the “plug and chug” system I thought it was.

What works for one child may not work for the next. Our job as parents is not to conform them to a particular mold.  Rather our job is to recognize how God has gifted them and help shape those gifts into Christlikeness.  That is going to look different for every child and the process is going to be different for every child.  Coco, Thunder and P.C. will all grow to be men of God (Lord willing as we walk faithfully before Him), but they will be all be different.  All three will sing His praises and worship Him together, but all three will serve Him differently.  Our job as parents is to prepare them for that service, whatever it may be.

P.C. is 4!

Every day marks a small change in our children’s lives.  Because that increment is small we don’t necessarily notice the changes as they are taking place.  That is one of the great things about birthdays.  Like mile markers along the highway, they denote a certain amount of progress and it is both enjoyable and awe-inspiring to consider the changes from one year to the next.  However, we must never forget they are also very different from mile markers in another sense.  Mile markers are usually something that we use to track our progress to a particular destination.  From that perspective, the journey becomes almost inconsequential because the destination is the reason for the trip.  With our children, the journey is the reason for the trip.

Happy Birthday to my little man!  I look forward every day to sitting in the front row of the circus.  May our Lord continue to bless you with the joy of life that radiates from every fiber of your little being.

Already 4!

Working together as parents

My children have figured out that if they ask me for permission while I am working odds are, it will be granted.  That is something I need to work on.  I hadn’t realized how extreme that phenomenon had become until yesterday when I told P.C. he could not do something he was asking for.

His prompt and cheerful reply came back, “No Daddy, you say, ‘Yes.’  Mommy says, ‘No.'”  In his mind, I had clearly forgotten my role.

What this funny little anecdote illustrates is what can happen if you are not diligent.  Children, at a very early age (P.C. is 3) will figure out how to present their petitions with the optimal chance for success.  That skill is a gift (as long as it is not done deceptively or manipulatively).  However, it is also requires that you and your bride have frequent conversations about what will be the rules in the  home.

Children change.  They are supposed to.  That is sort of the point of having them in your home.  You and your bride need to change the rules regarding what the child is allowed to do and not allowed to do as they change.  If you are not communicating together as a couple, then you will end up with a situation where the children will work one parent against the other and you will end up with two different standards.

Keeping your adopted children informed

There are essentially two schools of thought about informing your children about their adoption.

  1. Tell your children that they are adopted.
  2. Don’t tell your children that they are adopted.

What it really translates into is who tells your children they are adopted.  They are going to figure it out no matter how much they look like  you (sooner if they don’t).

When Thunder was two he went to a new pediatrician that almost immediately said, “So, you are adopted.”  To which Thunder replied “Praise God! Amen!”  He had heard it enough to know how to respond.  The pediatrician was a little taken aback and replied, “That’s some ammunition to fire back!”  He didn’t get it.  There will always be people that don’t get it.

I am not going to beat around the bush with this one.  I don’t know of a single situation (of course there may be some – I just don’t know of any) where withholding information from the child is helpful.

Yes, it is true that adoption can be traumatic for the child, even if you have them immediately from birth.  However, attempting to heal that trauma by pretending the adoption didn’t happen, doesn’t help.

Adoption makes them different.  They know that, even if they don’t know why.  Your job as a parent is not to bury your head in the sand, but to help them embrace the difference that God has given them, so that they will love it.  God has placed them with you.  Now, train them up to give thanks for that.

Wow, Christmas specials can leave an impression

P.C. is known for the surprises that will come out of his mouth.  If it is not a fresh perspective, he didn’t say it.

Tonight we were driving home from dinner with friends when it was dark.  Beautiful had the children looking for deer to keep them occupied since they were all tired.  She spotted one and proclaimed for them, “I saw a deer!”

P.C. was the first to respond. He exclaimed, “Is it flying?”

It’s April!  He hasn’t seen a Christmas special in 4 months (apparently not a deer either).