If we compared what I thought I knew about myself and parenting before our children were born, and what I now realize I actually knew (or more accurately, didn’t know!) back then, there would be a world of difference!!
You can probably relate. We thought we knew the type of parent we’d be or laid out in our minds exactly how we’d handle a certain issue. However, once we actually had that child and were parenting them in real-time, things probably looked quite different!
As much as I’ve learned about our children through the years, I’ve learned just as much about myself. Each new age and stage has its own many blessings as well as its challenges. And each one gives us and our children the chance to grow and mature as people.
Below are seven things I’ve learned (and continue to learn!) about myself on this parenting journey. There are certainly many others I could list, but these are some of the most meaningful ones.
1. We might not have as much patience as we thought we did.
Prior to becoming a mom, I taught classrooms full of kindergarteners and first graders. I would have said my patience level was fairly high.
And then I had my own children. Living with them was totally different. My true self was revealed, and it wasn’t pretty. I was a lot more self-centered and short-tempered than I’d realized. Dealing with a strong-willed two-year-old or sibling squabbles didn’t always bring out the best in me.
The good news is that in 18 years of parenting, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to grow in this area!
2. We can greatly benefit from community.
I’m an introvert, which means I don’t mind spending large chunks of time alone. However, throughout these mom years, I’ve found I definitely need time with other moms who are in similar life stages. There’s nothing like bonding with others over shared joys or trials in parenting. We can celebrate and commiserate.
Over the summer, I was with several mom friends at dinner. We had a great discussion about this transition between parenting children and young adults. I left so encouraged over finding common ground with others who can relate to what I’m going through.
3. We have to work at being consistent.
It’s not easy to be steady in our discipline or in setting boundaries. A hard day of parenting can make us want to just let everything go.
But we need to remember that our children are always watching and learning from what we do. They tend to respond better when we are predictable in how we interact with them and in how we conduct our own lives.
4. If we thought marriage revealed most of our flaws…parenting exposes even more.
I learned to do life with another adult for nine years before we had children. I’m not saying I did it perfectly (and I still don’t). But it’s like that was just the first step in stripping away my selfishness.
Once children came on the scene, it leveled up! There’s often some personal sacrifice involved when it comes to our kids, even basic things like getting up with them in the middle of the night or having very little time to ourselves. And while we wouldn’t have it any other way, these moments reveal more of who we really are.
5. We’re not in control.
I have to trust God because ultimately, I have no control over my children. From health to safety to relationships to choices they make, God is the one who’s in control.
In just the five weeks our daughter’s been at college, she’s already dealt with an unexplained rash and torn ligaments in her ankle. She’s “adulted” through it very well, but all I can do (and the best thing to do!) from this distance is to pray for her.
6. We need wisdom from God.
I never knew how much I needed Godly wisdom on a daily basis until I had teenagers. Whether they’re asking for guidance or we’re establishing boundaries and meeting out consequences, wisdom is invaluable.
We even need wisdom in how to pray for them. They may be dealing with issues they’ve not shared with us, but God knows each one and can lay them on our hearts.
7. We can love our children more than we ever thought possible.
In case the first six made it sound like there’s only a hard side of parenting, this one makes it all worth it!
It’s amazing how much love and joy we get from parenting our children. There’s such pleasure in having a front-row seat to watch them become the incredible young people God designed them to be.
What have you learned about yourself as you’ve parented your kids?