When people ask me about raising children, my immediate answer is: Prayer.
I have prayed that my children would grow up to be better human beings than me; I have prayed that they would be strong enough to withstand life’s inevitable disappointments; I have prayed that they would put God before all else. And ultimately, I have prayed that they would turn out alright in spite of me. I realized very quickly that no matter how hard I tried to be a good mother, there was no way to get it right all the time. Over the years, it has become easier to accept that I can never be a perfect mother because this job is as much about me growing as it is about helping them to grow.
There are however, some things that are worth passing on:
A young mother once asked my twenty-year old son what kind of a parent I was. He responded: She took our questions seriously. I have written about my children and their questions before. But it is true that I was so terrified of their intelligence that I could not risk dismissing their questions with flippant answers. (In fact I am afraid of all children and their uncanny ability to sniff hypocrisy and dishonesty. ) For the same reason I never lied to them or gave them a made up answer because I was afraid they would never trust me once they found out the truth.
Along with taking their questions seriously, came taking their interests seriously. We did ballet, baseball, swimming, soccer, volleyball, karate and music lessons. I bought jewelry making kits and calligraphy sets. I drove back and forth to art classes. We have a room full of musical instruments. All because they showed an interest and wanted to try something new. I was never good at making them practice or stick with anything if they lost interest. At one point I was accused of exposing them to too many things and that’s why they couldn’t put their fingers on their passions. But somehow they have found their passions and I have encouraged them to pursue them.
There is a fine balance between advocating for your child and making excuses for them. What I have hoped is that my children can take responsibility for their own actions and choices and at the same time stand up for themselves and their beliefs. It is not easy but it gets better with practice and learning from mistakes, both theirs and mine.
I impressed on them from early on that I was not the example of Faith they should follow. I am a work in progress, just like them. I made sure they knew that their relationship with God had to be a personal one. Don’t blame God for my shortcomings! I take full responsibility for them. And like I said. I pray that they will lead happy, healthy lives of service, in spite of me and my shortcomings.