If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Join Mission Family Nutrition!

Does the guy in the McDonald’s drive thru window know you by name?

Do you count a jelly doughnut as one of your kid’s daily fruit food group servings?

Does eating healthy consistently seem like a worthy, but unattainable goal?

This can be solved! I’m officially on the case!

About 10 years ago, after years of poor eating habits, good nutrition became one of my passions. However, I still have trouble staying on track in the midst of my busy, often unpredictable, life. I got to thinking, I can’t be alone!

So, this Friday, February 5th, I am launching a six-week Challenge -- Mission Family Nutrition!

Join me in unraveling the mystery of eliminating bad habits and feeding your family healthy meals and snacks that they will actually eat. Gasp.

This won’t happen overnight. And probably not in six weeks. But it’s a start. If you stick with it beyond the Challenge, you will slowly transform your family’s eating habits. It can be done!

Consider how much you’re benefitting your children when you train them to eat right:
  • By leading the way, you’re setting an example that will benefit them for years to come.
  • You’re teaching your kids discipline. Discipline in one area often carries over into other areas, as well.
  • Good eating helps them be more productive and helps enable them to be all God created them to be!
Every Wednesday, chiropractor and nutrition expert, Dr. David Winsor, will be giving us great nutritional information and tips as we try to solve our nutritional dilemmas.

But we don’t need an expert to get started on the case! Here’s how it’s going to work:
  • Mission Family Nutrition is from February 5 through March 12.
  • Work on eliminating one bad food habit or incorporating one good food habit into our family’s diets each week. Or, one week, maybe you want to focus on trying a new healthy recipe. You can get creative with your goals. The idea is to adopt small changes to your family’s eating habits. If you try to change everything at once, you’ll encounter too much resistance and get discouraged. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • Every Friday, starting February 5th, post your week’s goal on your blog and give us an update on your progress from the previous week’s goal. By all means, share your success stories and recipes! We can learn so much from each other! Please copy the code to my cute little button to go with it, so others can join us on the case! Then come here and leave the link to your nutrition post via Mister Linky.
  • Try to visit as many of the other blogs left on Mister Linky as you can. It’s a great way to find new blogging friends and we can also support and encourage each other.
I’ll be offering giveaways to participants along the way to reward your efforts!

Alright, are you ready to track down better habits? Here’s what you do:

  1. Leave me a comment below!
  2. Tell your other blogging friends about Mission Family Nutrition.
    Use my handy “Tweet This” button below!
  3. Post your first nutrition goal on your blog on February 5 along with my button or a link to this post.
  4. Come here and leave your post’s link on Mister Linky.
  5. Follow the plans outlined above throughout the Challenge.

No one likes to eat alone, so join me! Together, we’ll crack the case.

Melinda

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Woman Living Well

We all want to live well.

Some days, however, it seems like it takes a heroic effort just to survive – let alone thrive.

Anybody out there relate?

That’s why I admire women like Courtney of Women Living Well, my Blogger of the Week.

Courtney is a real girl (aka “not perfect”). Whew. But she has figured out some valuable secrets for making her life work – and she’s kind and merciful enough to share them. I, for one, am grateful.

Here’s some thoughts and resources Courtney would like to share with my readers:

Hi! This is Courtney ... So many women ask me “How do you do it all? How do you read your Bible daily, tend to all your husband’s needs, home school, blog, keep an orderly home, and exercise regularly?” And my answer is DISCIPLINE! I don’t just make plans – I implement them. (although we all know I’m human – not superwoman -- so I am far from perfect and on this journey with you!)

Below are some strategies that work for me (and I know it does not work for everyone – but I write these so that maybe one thing on the list could help you.)

1.) I have an accountability group for my morning quiet times called the “Good Morning Girls” (http://www.womenlivingwell.org/good_morning_girls) Daily we email and say good morning to each other after we have our quiet times. We have been a tech accountability group for 2 1/2 years now and it works! All of us have grown in our walks with God as a result. I have invited my readers to start their own Good Morning Girls groups and there are now 37 Good Morning Girls groups and over 200 women across the country using tech accountability for their quiet times! You are welcome to join us! Check out the link above.

2.) I was featured on the Rachael Ray Show in a segment on 50’s wives (http://womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com/2009/11/youtube-rachael-ray-segment-50s-wives.html) . Here I talked about my marriage. On Mondays I am currently writing more about being a submissive, respectful, and helpful wife. And on Wednesdays I am in the middle of a series on the Proverbs 31 wife. So stop by during the week to catch more on this topic!

3.) As far as cleaning goes - Here’s my new 2010 Weekly Cleaning Schedule (http://womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-new-2010-weekly-schedule.html) and Meal Planner (http://www.womenlivingwell.org/meal_plan).

4.) And for exercise – again I like accountability. So my very generous and godly fitness trainer has offered her time on the Women Living Well message board. She is weekly giving us tips, challenges, goals and accountability. So if you want to join the discussion check out the message board here. (http://www.womenlivingwell.org/message_board).

This quote by Elizabeth George sums up my passion: "Homemaking is an art, and you have the privilege of expressing and developing all your talents there in a little place called home.

You get to build...beautify... organize...create...fuss...express yourself. You get to read and study and grow and master nutrition, finances, horticulture, design, wardrobe, etc. And you also get to shape your children, to give their precious lives a bent toward God. To nurture their souls with the good things of God. To pass on the truth about Jesus to one more generation.

And to do so means you've got to be dedicated, organized, and a woman of purpose. And you've got to have the spunk and energy to follow through on all the dedication, organization, and purpose that answering God's high calling to homemaking requires."

--Elizabeth George, A Woman's High Calling

Thanks, Courtney! Want more tips? Be sure and visit her!
Melinda

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Moment of Truth

It’s true confessions time.

Wait, it’s always that time on my blog.

What’s left to confess, you may wonder?

Well, I still have a few skeletons in my closet. And thanks to the rules of a lovely award I received from Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full, you get to hear about 10 of them….

1. I was a nerd when I was younger. I could show you pictures from Junior High. But then I’d have to kill you.

2. After our wedding reception, my husband and I did what every young newlywed couple does. Headed straight for the Wendy’s drive thru. We were hungry, okay?

3. I have a record with the FBI. It’s true. Several years ago, I was flying to Arizona and forgot to remove a paring knife I had packed to peel apples for the kids on a road trip a few weeks before. Because the blade was a millimeter over three inches, I got slapped with a $250 fine and the “incident” was filed with the FBI. I promise you. They did not find it in my underwear.

4. When I was nine, I signed my letters, “Melinda the Great.” No self-esteem issues there.

5. I can’t go out without makeup. I don’t know why. I. just. can’t.

6. I can touch my nose with my tongue. So if this whole writing thing doesn’t work out, at least I have something to fall back on.

7. I have taken tennis lessons. That doesn’t mean I can play.

8. I am not a morning person or a night person. I am a sleep person.

9. I am an American Idol junkie. But I must say, the audition phase is really wearing thin. And with Simon gone next season, I may be gone, too.

10. Finally, I need grace. Lots of it. And I’m so glad I have a Father who gives it to me.

Okay, that’s it. I think I’ve suffered enough humiliation for one day.

How about you? Anything you’d like to share?
Melinda

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Disciple Like Jesus Interview -- Part Two

There are no guarantees.

We’re not going to get it all “just right” all the time.

Despite our best efforts, our children may still break our hearts.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of one of my kids going down a self-destructive path is enough to send this mama right over the edge.

But then I remember: I’m not doing this alone. I have a very trustworthy Someone who has left me a roadmap and walks with me each step of the way. And, even when my kids go off course, I know that they are always in the palm of His hand.

Yesterday, I reviewed the book Disciple Like Jesus for Parents. The authors, Alan Melton and Dr. Paul Dean, share some valuable principles and practical help for all of us parents in the trenches. I posted Part One of my interview with Alan Melton yesterday. Below is the remainder:

CC: How is media and technology undermining our efforts to raise children with a godly value system? What can parents do about it?
Melton: Media and technology are becoming primary teachers of children because children are spending so much time under those influences. Almost all of these mediums promote an unbiblical worldview. Parents need to spend lots of personal time with their children and limit media and technology.
Like Jesus, parents need to train and warn children about the false philosophies that are promoted by these mediums. All forms of media and technology, such as computers, televisions, and DVD players should be monitored by parents. Having these in a family room, rather than in bedrooms is helpful. Choose godly entertainment; reject ungodly entertainment. Install internet filters. Personal devices such as Cell phones, game boys, etc should also be carefully selected and monitored.
Regarding entertainment, think about this. No one benefits by being entertained. Make choices that will improve yourself or will help others.
CC: In your book, you write, "Your primary focus is not behavior modification but heart transformation." What's the most important thing a parent can do to capture their child's heart for God?
Melton: Children need revelation about what their heart is leading them to do. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Children need to learn how to evaluate what is going on in their heart, and how that lines up with scripture. They need to discern the sin in their hearts, and to know the voice of the Lord. With the help of the Holy Spirit, an evil thought or action can be overcome with a scriptural response.
With the help of a parent, a child can learn to repent when they sin and receive the heart transformation that only comes from the Lord. Parents need to acknowledge their own sins and to firmly but sweetly restore their children when they sin.
Parents can capture a child’s heart through quantity time, through entering the child’s world and by being the primary influence in their child’s life. This comes by really knowing the child on a heart level, and there are no shortcuts to this.
CC: As I read your book, I have to confess. A number of times, I thought, "Wow, I wish I'd known some of these things when my kids were little!" What would you say to parents with older kids who may think it's too late to implement some of these principles?
Melton: I started late myself and wish I had started when my children were babies. However, consider the fact that Jesus was making disciples of grown men. We are commanded in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 to do what Jesus did with His disciples. This commandment was given to parents and grandparents. Jesus proved that it can be done with adults, so it is never too late to ask forgiveness from your children and to begin.
It does get harder when children are older, and expectations sometimes need to be adjusted. The best thing every parent can do is to ask for help daily in what to do. We can ask the Lord “to restore what the locusts have devoured.” The Lord will honor our obedience, no matter when we begin.
CC: Tell me about your ministry and what's next for you.
Melton: We are planning some conferences in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia . We are working on a book for young parents, and then one for church leaders; this book will be more practical for new parents and parents to be.
For more information about his ministry or buy his book, visit http://disciplelikejesus.com.
Melton has agreed to answer your parenting questions. I’ll share the Q&A in a later post. If you have a parenting question you’d like answered, please email me at melinda@parentingconfessions.com. Your name will not be used.
And if you’d still like to enter the giveaway for a free copy of Disciple Like Jesus for Parents, please leave me a comment today or on yesterday’s post. The giveaway ends 1/31/10.
Melinda

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Review: Disciple Like Jesus for Parents

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!

It’s shocking.
In the average Christian home, only five hours a week are spent on spiritual training, while a whopping 80 hours a week are spent taking in influences from other sources.

Is it any wonder that so many of our young people walk away from their faith after graduating from high school?

In their new book, Disciple Like Jesus for Parents, authors Alan Melton and Paul Dean cite this statistic and take on the very daunting and vital task of helping parents beat the odds.
The book focuses on using the model of how Jesus discipled and applying it to our parenting.
First, the authors clearly and effectively lay out the battle parents are up against and the urgency of taking action:
"The hearts and minds of your children are being shaped by what they take in on a regular basis. If you are not filling their minds with a biblical worldview they are by necessity being molded into the world's way of thinking."
"Your children have been given to you by God for a very short season and one day you will present them to God as your primary fruit."
Melton and Dean lay out the principles that Jesus used with his disciples, including quantity time, teaching Scripture, combating peer influences, asking questions and modeling an intimate relationship with the Father.

They then give practical ways for living this out with your children on a daily basis in a world full of cultural influences and distractions.

I found this book to be a powerful reminder that as a parent, I will one day be held accountable for how I teach and raise my children. Since reading it, I have found myself being much more intentional about weaving my faith into everyday conversations with my kids.

Although I don’t homeschool, as Melton does with his children, I have been spurred to cut out certain influences and set aside more one-on-one time with each of my children. It hasn't been easy. My teenager especially fought it. But I’ve already seen attitude changes and good spiritual conversations as a result.
Interview with the Author -- Part One
In your book, you write that research shows that 75 to 90 percent of young people walk away from the church after graduating high school. That's a disturbing statistic. What do you think is the main reason for this?

Christian children are simply choosing to follow those who disciple them. Since most of a child’s time is being spent with ungodly influences, children are becoming ungodly. Jesus said that a student will become like his teacher. "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40.

The good news is that parents can dramatically improve the chances of their child staying involved in church! And not only that, parents can avoid or reduce modern cultural maladies such as teen rebellion, pre marital sex, drug use and peer dependence.

In summary, parents can truly enjoy the blessings that are promised to them in scripture about children. The solution is to disciple their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. Doing so will build strong family relationships, mature, fruitful children and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for today's parents who desire to raise kids who follow Christ?

Parents are increasingly distracted from making disciples of their children. Parents already have the obstacle of not having been discipled themselves. With all the busyness, entertainment, technology, and cultural activities, parents are distracted from thinking about and planning for making disciples.

When you say parents should "disciple like Jesus" what do you mean? Can you briefly explain your philosophy?

Jesus showed us how to make disciples and then commanded us to make disciples, but we have cheapened the idea of discipleship. We tend to think that discipleship is an activity that happens for an hour or two per week as some church related activity. However Jesus personally trained His disciples. He did not send His disciples to be trained by unbelievers. Parents in the same way need to personally train their children and not trust their children to unbelievers for training.

Secondly, Jesus was with His disciples for the majority of most days; He didn’t practice the “quality time” lie that is so popular today. Parents should be with their children for quantity time.

Thirdly, Jesus was frequently teaching His disciples scripture and biblical principles each day. He was taking His disciples into the world and showing them how to minister to others. Parents should be constantly saturating their children in the gospel by reading scripture and talking about the Lord, by listening to God glorifying music and watching God glorifying entertainment. Parents should take their children with them as they go into the world in ministering to others; praying for others and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Finally, Jesus protected His disciples from wolves. He didn’t send them out until they were ready, and then He never sent them out alone. He sent them out in twos, with mature Christian adults. And they were grown men! Parents should never send their little lambs out alone. Like Jesus the Shepherd in the valley of the shadow of death, parents should be with their children as much as possible.

What are some of the mistakes parents make when trying to pass down their spiritual heritage?

Some parents want to give their children the same Christian experiences that the parents had, and this is not working in our present culture. Parents need to forget about their past and look to the examples of Jesus. Some parents try to preach; this activity is best left to pastors. Parents should engage children in meaningful discussions about scripture. Some parents are legalistic, while other parents are permissive.

Parents need to be careful to not exasperate their children, but also careful not to allow their children to be consumed by wolves. Some parents want their children to be “salt and light” and are losing their children to the wolves. Jesus intended the “salt and light” teaching for adults, and as noted before He did not send His adult disciples out alone. What is happening to the children is they are “losing their saltiness” (becoming like the world) fit to be trampled. Matthew 5:13

Come back tomorrow for Part Two of my interview with Alan Melton!

And don't forget to comment if you'd like a chance to win a copy of his book! Giveaway ends 1/31/10.

To learn more about his ministry or buy his book, visit http://disciplelikejesus.com/.

Alan Melton is the founder of Disciple Like Jesus ministry, and co-author of Disciple Like Jesus For Parents. The ministry encourages parents and grandparents to disciple their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. His articles have been featured in numerous publications, and he speaks at churches, associations and conferences. Alan has served the Lord as a church planter, senior pastor/elder, deacon chairman and business owner. He led Evangelism Explosion and FAITH evangelism training ministries for 10 years and juvenile delinquent ministries for 16 years. Married to Donna since 1977, he has two children, Jennifer and Ryan.
Melinda

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Guess Who?

Lately, there’s been quite a search for identity in my house.

My son, Micah, 10, loves the game “Guess Who?” he got for Christmas. In fact, it stayed set up in the middle of my family room for so long, I thought I might just have to work it into my decorating theme.

If you’re not familiar with “Guess Who?”, it’s a board game where each player chooses a character. The object is to be the first one to guess your opponent’s identity by asking the right questions.

Despite the fact that I am college-educated and have far more years of board-game experience than my young son, he usually outwits me. He also routinely kicks my butt in Rock Band 2 and runs circles around me (literally) in Wii Fit Plus. It’s a wonder I have a shred of dignity left.

When we play guessing games with our kids in real life, though, everybody’s the loser.

Does this sound familiar? You blow up at your child for an offense that you let them get away with the day before. You respond with irritation and impatience to your child’s innocent request because someone or something put you in a bad mood earlier that day.

Or, here’s my personal favorite: You are ranting at your kids about something when the phone rings and you take a breath long enough to answer and sweetly say, “Hello?”

God began to open my eyes to this destructive, mixed-message behavior quite a while ago. I realized I wanted my kids to see me as genuine, authentic, consistent. How can they know what to model if it’s constantly changing?

I realized I sometimes gave complete strangers more patience and consideration than I gave my own children.

I’ve come a long way since then. But I’m not there yet. How do I know this? Well, not long ago, my pastor’s wife was admiring a photo of me with my daughter Molly.

Pastor’s Wife: Oh, you two look so sweet. Your mom has such a beautiful smile. You have such a nice mom.

Molly: (Chuckling)… Oh, ho, ho, she’s not always that nice. You should see her at home sometimes!

Leave it to my teenage daughter to keep it real. I’m working on doing the same.
Melinda

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Wise Woman

Ever thought you knew it all?

I have.

You probably wouldn't have liked me much then. I was fairly self-absorbed and self-righteous. It wasn't pretty.

I can tell you in one word what set me straight.

Children.

Yep, God used a couple of tiny, little people to bring this grown woman to her knees.

Parenting quickly and ruthlessly exposed my wisdom deficit.

Now I look for godly sources of it every chance I get.

I found one in Jeanie Wise, my Blogger of the Week.

I met Jeanie several years ago at a writing conference. Over the past year, we've kept in touch by phone and email, sharing blogging tips and encouragement for our writing and spiritual journeys.

Jeanie is a grandma, a fantastic writer and a true, deep godly woman. She has an infectious laugh, a sparkling personality and is tons of fun. I come away encouraged from every interaction with her.

Although her blog, Healthy Spirituality doesn't usually deal directly with parenting issues, her wisdom and insights will surely deepen your relationship with God -- and that is something that has certainly helped me in my parenting.

A sampling of Jeanie's posts:

The Spirituality of Beholding God's Love

The Wonder of God's Visible and Invisible World

Spiritual Mold Growing in my Soil/Soul

Make a wise choice ... Check her out!
Melinda

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Cold Douse of Perspective

It was a rude awakening.

This has been one of the coldest weeks in Florida history. Now I know all of you readers in Iowa and Wisconsin, are saying, “Boo hoo. Poor baby. Did it dip down to 60 degrees?!"

Fine. Mock my pain. But we Floridians are not accustomed to temperatures in the mid-20s, warming up cars before taking kids to school and scraping frost from our windshields. I think I have about two sweaters and one of them went out of style in the ‘80s.

So imagine my horror when I anticipated a hot, steamy shower to warm my wimpy Florida blood and was instead treated to an icy blast.

Apparently, the pipes coming from our water heater decided that the only 25-degree morning in decades was a fine time to spring a leak.

I was feeling quite frustrated and annoyed by this cruel twist of fate – and the $600 bill that accompanied it.

Until I learned about the tragedy in Haiti.

And suddenly I was delivered a rather large dose of a little thing called perspective.

It’s something that comes in handy in parenting, too.

Our kids do things that annoy. Inconvenience. Frustrate. This morning for instance, my teenage daughter missed the bus – because she couldn’t find the “right” colored flip flops.

So I had to drive her to the next bus stop. Big whoop dee do.

But, by all my fussing and fuming, you’d have thought the world was ending as we knew it.

In the big scheme of things, the things our kids do – the annoyances and missteps – are a blip on the screen – just a part of growing up.

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. When I lose sight of the big picture, I nitpick and nag instead of nurture and guide. I blow things out of proportion. I damage relationship and erode my respect and influence.

And the effects of that is a cold reality I definitely want to avoid.

(Love) does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:5
Melinda

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Throw the book at me!

They just sat there staring at me.

Feeling a sudden burst of energy for clutter reduction and reorganization, I had purged all the bookcases in the house of once beloved, but now unwanted literary works (Spongebob, for instance, can only provide so much wisdom).

The result was three rather large, very heavy boxes, which I put in my bedroom – in October -- with the intention of donating them to the library.

Well, October came and went. The boxes remained. Taunting me. Every time I passed them, I felt stress. But I’d need Mike to haul them to the van. Then I’d have to find someone at the library to carry them in. Sounded like quite a production. Might take all of 10 minutes. So I kept putting it off.

Besides, I was planning to reorganize and declutter my bedroom "soon." I'd just wait until then to deal with them.

Then this week, I mentioned that I was going to the library with Micah. Mike immediately perked up and said, “The library? You’re going to the library? Here! Let me load those books for you!”

Apparently, they were causing him some stress as well.

A kind library gentlemen helped me unload the books. I think my “10 minutes” was an overestimate. Months of stress over a task that took a nanosecond. Sheesh.

As I was driving home, I felt a ridiculous amount of relief. And God brought to my thoughts three words: “Do it now.” Yes, how much silly stress I could avoid by “doing it now!” Earlier in the week, I felt He was prompting me to “Plan Ahead.”

Those two simple phrases are going to be my mantra in 2010. I’m tired of being a chronic procrastinator (classic trait of a perfectionist who puts off things until they can be done perfectly). I want to be a woman of action – even if it can’t be done perfectly.

So how does this apply to parenting? Well, I think “woman of action” is a far better role model to my children than “woman who puts things off because she won’t accept anything less than perfection.”

Further, I know that poor planning has resulted in more than one poor choice in my lifetime. If I can teach better planning and positive, purposeful – not perfect – action to my children this year, 2010 will be well spent.

Okay, now to tackle my refrigerator …
Melinda

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Messy, but Beautiful

I don't like messes. They stress me out, frankly.

That's one of the reasons I find family life challenging sometimes. It's not neat and tidy. Controlling the chaos is often about as easy as herding cats.

But over the years, I've noticed something. Messy is part of life. And sometimes it can be the best part. I learn from the messes. The messes make life interesting.

My blogger of the week, Courtney Kirkland, thinks so, too. Courtney is a young wife of a Coast Guard man with an adorable toddler son. Her blog, Beautiful Mess, explores the ups and downs of marriage and parenting with authenticity, humility and transparency. She'll make you smile and encourage and inspire you. You'll always leave with something to ponder.

Here are few of her best posts:

Lessons Learned in Silence

The Wife He Deserves

Black Sheep

Trust me, you'll love her -- even though she's a little messy.
Melinda

Friday, January 1, 2010

No New Year's Resolutions? I'm Positive!

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions.

Frankly, as a recovering perfectionist, I struggle enough with the self-imposed pressure to perform. I don’t need a list of black-and-white reminders of my vast inability to measure up, thank you very much.

That’s not to say I don’t believe in goals. I think goals are great. And maybe the difference between “goals” and “resolutions” is simply in my own neurotic little psyche. But perception is reality. And in my mind, you can fall short of a goal, but still feel good about your progress.

Resolutions leave less wiggle room. “I will do this, I won’t do that ….” Too concrete. Don’t do what you say you will just once? You feel like a big, fat failure. And, after all, isn’t it our kids’ job to make us feel that way?!

So, I’m going rogue. I refuse to make resolutions. And I’m going to take it one step further. On the suggestion of a friend, I am going to make a list of the things that I did right in 2009. Not only does it feel encouraging, instead of oppressive, it also helps to focus in on the things you’re doing well and build on them.

I’m starting with the things I did right in my parenting in 2009. Surely, there have to be a few things. Let’s see …

1.) I DID enjoy the moment. I spent a lot of my early parenting years looking ahead to the next thing on my to-do list and failed to enjoy just being in the moment with my kids. Now that my kids are older, I long to recapture those lost opportunities. I can’t, of course. But I’m doing a better job of not letting more of them slip by.

2.) I DIDN'T lose my temper as often. Perfectionistics like me crave control. If you haven’t noticed, children often don’t enjoy being controlled. And it can cause my blood to boil when I can’t fit them in my neat little boxes. But the more I have submitted control to their Heavenly Father this year, the less angry I feel.

3.) I DID see my kids’ perspective. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like to be a 13-year-old girl. And who can really understand the mind of a nine-year-old boy? But when I take the time to see things from their point of view, it increases both my patience and my compassion.

4.) I DID loosen up. My task-focused nature wants to take things too seriously. I’ve done a better job of laughing at myself and my shortcomings (I never have a shortage of material). And a happier, less-stressed mom has equaled happier, less-stressed kids.

5.) I DIDN'T criticize as often. I’m beginning to learn the fine art of choosing my battles. A 13-year-old daughter provides a crash course in this particular discipline. Everyday I ask God for wisdom on how to choose my words and when to keep silent. And He has delivered.

So, how about you? I’m confident you are doing many things right with your kids as well. And you probably don’t give yourself enough credit. Now’s your chance. Tell me one thing you’re doing well with those kiddos!

* A quick sidenote: It is my GOAL to get back into blogging next week. I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus during the holidays. I'll be visiting all your great blogs very soon!
Melinda
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