Christian Living


Mommy and the Joyful Three

Adding Up Your Children Individually

In my post last week, I talked about raising daughters. I wanted to continue my thoughts on that subject this week.

Both of my daughters are vastly different in personality. My oldest is a more conservative, worrying type. She has a huge humanitarian heart and seeks God, but tends to focus on the negative at times. My youngest daughter is one of those people you cannot bring down.

An example of their differing personalities is a conversation they recently had. My oldest daughter told her younger sister that she was fat. I was very upset about this and told her to apologize. I could not believe she would say something so mean to her sister.

My younger daughter shocked me however and replied, “It’s OK, Mommy. I don’t care if I am fat. I am the most adorable thing ever.”

I am not so sure I can credit her positive personality or high self-esteem to my parenting, but it was a feel-good moment for me as a mother.

All of us are different. Our differing personalities evolve and are established during our childhood. When I first had my two girls, I assumed having daughters meant I’d be raising two very alike children. I was very wrong. My daughters are night and day.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I cannot parent my three children the exact same way. With my daughters, I must recognize that while my oldest is well adjusted, in most ways, her self-esteem is not as high as it should be. With my youngest, I must understand that while her self-esteem is very high, there are other things with which she struggles.

Parenting can seem like a math problem sometimes. As parents, we have to add and subtract, multiply and divide. We must add to the areas they may feel insecure about, subtract their negative notions, multiply the love and divide our time accordingly to each of our children.

We will miscalculate and come to the wrong answer, but as long as God’s love is the common denominator, our children will be blessed. They will grow up and become the men and women of God they are destined to be.

God created each of us in His image, but that image is vast and full of depth. Our personalities, desires and feelings are all unique to us. This, to me, is the most amazing thing about being one of God’s creations. We are all priceless masterpieces. Our value is immeasurable. If we have a keen eye, we will be able to appreciate the fine art that God created in each of our kids.

Every year for my children’s birthdays, I write a poem or a list pointing out each of the things that amazes me about them. Try doing the same and you’ll find yourself being even more grateful for the complexities of each of your own kids.

God does not expect us to live up to one another, just that we seek Him and follow His teachings. My younger brother was a very easy child. He seemed to always do the right thing and my parents hardly had to worry about him. My older brother was an over-achiever, graduating early and working hard to succeed. I was a difficult child; I had learning disabilities and struggled in most areas.

My parents did not love one of us over the other. My mother recently told me that her parenting style for me was a cause and effect reaction more than a plan. She never knew what to expect, so she would parent in a reactive style.

For a long time, I resented my parents for the choices they made, feeling like they did not understand me. Now that I’m a parent, I am realizing how hard it is to know the “right” answers.

If you have a child with learning disabilities or difficulties, take the opportunity to praise them about the areas in which they do excel. This does not mean that we should allow our children to walk all over us or be undisciplined. It instead means that we praise the good while we address the bad, just as God does with us. Let’s parent in a way that is rooted in forgiveness and compassion.

If you are struggling, seek godly counsel. Outside help can do wonders. Seek out a family counselor or a trusted pastor and explain your situation. Allow them to guide you along with God’s love and your parenting will benefit. Above all else, pray for God to directly give you guidance as to how to parent your children. Our Heavenly Father knows best.