One Chance To Raise Them Right

I love being a mom.  It is the best-worst job ever.  If you are a parent, you know exactly what that means.  I am blessed beyond measure with one amazing son who at ten years old already knows compassion, empathy, grace and best of all, how to show the love of God to others.  Even though he is all of these wonderful things and more, he is still a child.  A child that is learning about life and the ups and downs that come with living.  A child that sometimes makes mistakes and chooses to defy my authority because his increasing need for independence drives him.  He loves big and falls hard.  He dislikes school, but loves to be creative. He needs boundaries but acts like they stand in his way.  He is a child, that reminds me so much of myself.  

Good parenting is tough.  Good parenting is relentless.  Good parenting is crucial. And good parenting doesn't come natural for everyone.  It is especially difficult when you haven't prepared. What do I mean by, prepare? Think through possible scenarios, get your game plan, know how you'll react when situations arise and always remember to show love through it all.

My very best friend, Jennifer was raised by two amazing parents. Cheryl and Gary were not just fulfilling their parental duties by feeding, clothing and providing shelter for them.  They sacrificed their personal comfort for what was good for their children, they had game plans, they went against the grain of society and they worked together. They knew their children's desires, passions, talents and character.  Most of all, they showed their kids love.  Love from hugs, kisses, encouragement, and physical presence but also through boundaries and expectations.   Cheryl wrote a book entitled, Before They Graduate and in it she tells stories, gives advice and helps motivate parents to be the best they can be for their kids, because we only get one chance to raise them right.  When I read this book it was fun to remember the stories, but most of all it was refreshing to have great parenting techniques confirmed.  I don't quite remember how I felt about their parenting techniques while I was the best friend coming over for visits with Jennifer as a teenager, but what I do know is that all 4 siblings are wonderful, responsible and loving adults.

Okay, so I'm referring to a loving married couple raising children but what about the single parent who doesn't have that loving spouse by their side?  What about us? How are we as single parents supposed to work full time or more, keep a household and have enough energy and motivation to instill good parenting to our children?  The answer is not simple.  The answer is very complex in definition, but also obvious.  We have to.  Our children deserve good parents so that they can be great adults. There is no one else who can or will step up to the plate.  We may feel overwhelmed at times (get help).  We may feel unqualified (research, learn and get help). We may be exhausted (get help).  We have a job to do and we have to do it well.  Our children are depending on us. If you noticed a theme, it is important to get help.  Truth is that we are not super heroes and there is a reason that children were meant to be raised in a two-parent household.  It is a lot of work but it can be done and done well. Be honest with yourself when you feel like you are drowning.  There are people around who want to help but need to know how.

The main take-away is this: Anyone can be a mom or a dad.  It takes determination, effort and willingness for sacrifice to be a good parent.  Our children need good parents.  Know your children, understand their weaknesses and strengths.  Take the time to plan how you will parent each of them and what you will need within yourself to do this.  You have a lot on your plate, that's a certainty but with God, you can do this.

5 Ways To Love Yourself

Being a single parent has moments of highs and lows just like any other journey in life, but if there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that I have to think about myself just as much as my child or I will lose sight of who I am as a person in this entire process. Our needs are important too and the better we take care of ourselves, the better equipped we are to take care of our children.

1)     Wake up 15 minutes or more before your kids. When you wake up in the morning, before checking Facebook or checking in with your text messages, check in with yourself.  Do a few stretches in bed to loosen up your muscles, sit up and say a prayer for your day.  Take those 15 minutes (or more) before your kids wake up to start the day in peace and calmness. Gain perspective before you rush about your routine.
2)     Drive to work in silence.  It is really easy to fill our day with noise to drown our how we are feeling or to move about a routine with fun and enjoyment.  Noise and fun are great, but it is important for us to continue to learn about ourselves.  The drive to work with an empty car is a great time to really think about situations, emotions or issues we may be dealing with but are too busy to confront.
3)     Give yourself a gift.  Budgets may be tight and the idea of shopping for us is last on our list.  Treat yourself to one thing per week that is for you and only you.  It doesn’t have to cost money.  It can be a peaceful walk on your lunch break, a hot steamy towel over your face for a quick beauty treatment, eating the last cookie in the cookie jar.  Little perks to yourself send messages that you are worth it.
4)     Make a decision to realize your worth.  You put forth extreme effort in raising your kids and doing that all by yourself! That’s a huge undertaking and you are doing it.  Every single day! Take time each day to remind yourself of that.  Even if you don’t believe yourself in the beginning, keep saying, “I am an important person and of great worth. I matter.
5)     Walk away from toxic relationships.  Whether those are romantic or platonic, keep people away who are dragging you down and are negative. To be a positive person you need to be around positive people. It may hurt initially, but after time you will be better for losing the negative baggage. Negative people only know how to be negative. Positive people can be the game changers for you and how you perceive life and yourself.