Has your parenting ever been questioned? Have you ever been “shamed” or criticized for your chosen way of raising your child? For giving them candies and letting them participate in Halloween parties when you are a Christian or for allowing them to wear heels and let them play with make up at age six? Let me tell you what, it is okay. What is not is being critical over other parent’s convictions.
As a first time parent, I admit to being overly strict in the first six years of my daughter’s life. To me rules were very important. I was at the stage of planting the seeds of values and principles I want my daughter to grow up practicing. And by being strict I mean no sweets on weekdays and just one treat in the weekend (either an icecream or a cupcake but never both).
Moreover, bedtime is strictly at 7 p.m. Watching videos online is only on Fridays and Saturdays and for only a total of 1 hour per day. Sundays are no-Youtube days. As such, I was teased to be Ms. Minchin in the movie “Princess Sarah” for being so strict bordering kill joy or KJ.
However, as the parent who knows her child well and with prayers seeking for wisdom from God on the right time to loosen up, I knew I had to be more lenient and trusting.
Most of my work as mother-teacher is accomplished in the first seven years of Gummy’s life and I am now transitioning to being the mother-friend, who let’s her decide and steps back to watch her. Why? Because trust has been built; principles and values planted deep and are being constantly watered; and the heart regularly checked.
We parents must realize that our control over the lives of our children must loosen up as they grow older. We need to start letting them learn more about life, not through our lectures but through the choices they make.
As a parent, my goal is simple: to teach my child the ways of the Lord, while keeping her happy, the former being the primary goal and the latter, the secondary. Of course I want my child to be happy, but it has to be within the moral boundaries of our faith. I cannot be so strict about the rules to the point of exasperating her in my legalism.
At the end of the day, more than the rules, it is our relationship that is more important; and at the center of this approach is the heart. We must ask, “Do I know what’s in it and its state? Am I sensitive to it? Is my own aligned to the Lord’s in my parenting?”
The last thing I want in this life is to squeeze out joy from Gummy’s youthful years in my desire to make an obedient child out of her. I had to be careful raising a child who loves to obey versus a child who may be obeying outwardly but whose heart is dishonoring.
I pray to be able to raise my child in a healthy and balanced environment where she is happy and her values are correct. As those of you who follow us in Instagram see, my daughter’s personality is very vibrant and playful. She is such a jokester, pilya but she knows what is right from wrong. She knows that what is important is the heart. I let her blossom, with my guidance not control.
I think parenting principles can be simplified into two things: values that are non-negotiable and convictions that are negotiable. Just check your heart and pray about every single thing. Relax and enjoy being the parent-teacher-friend of your child.
So go ahead and you can attend Halloween next year as long as your mind is set that it is a gathering of children in costumes and not to celebrate the creatures of the dead; go let your little girls experiment on make up—as long as you tell them make up is only for play and special occasions and not for school.
Let them wear clogs or kitten heels and watch them form their own fashion. Let them enjoy cotton candy and dirty ice cream in the next children’s party you’ll attend and share with them how you also had those when you were young. It’s okay to eat on the bed, eat potato chips or hotdogs at times and watch Youtube on Friday nights. It’s okay.
It is not always about abstinence but control. Our children need to experience as much as they can and practice self-control, which is more important. Know when to let lose and be lax. Know also when to discipline. As long as the heart knows, the mind and hands [and mouth]will follow.
Let us neither compare nor judge. Our unique personalities shape and influence our parenting. Just always remember to be within boundaries. Parenting is fun, do not be so hard on yourself. Give yourself and your children grace.