How to Parent Kids Like You (or Not)
Have you ever heard a friend say, “This can’t be my child! She is nothing like me!” Or, “It’s frightening how much he is like me!” Being a parent keeps us on our toes. Here are ways our Mom Mentors shepherd their little ones to be the unique people God intended them to be. We love our Moms! And thank God for their honest and inspiring insights.
Q: Is your child like you or not, and how does that affect your parenting?
Audra Haney: This question made me smile and chuckle a little. While my sweet Norah has my hair color, my eyes, and my love for cheese and musicals—we are wired very differently. I would say that I have a very B-type personality, and I can also be very introverted. Norah on the other hand takes after her dad. She’s never met a stranger! While I’d be happy snuggled up with a book for hours, Norah is looking for an exciting adventure every moment of every day. Snuggles are sweet and sincere, but only last about 10 seconds before she is off to explore something new.
Norah is also extremely independent and strong-willed (again, like her daddy!) Many people frown upon this trait, but honestly, I love it! I believe she will be a great leader, a world changer, and a history maker. However, parenting a strong-willed child does require more patience, more endurance, and stronger/stricter boundaries. There are days where I wish strapping her into the car seat didn’t spark World War III or that she wouldn’t scream during her entire naptime. It’s true that parenting a strong-willed baby has challenged me in immeasurable ways, but overall, it has driven me to Jesus more often for more wisdom. And, I’m thankful for anything that draws me closer to Him!
Tiffany Malloy: My oldest child is a mini-me, both in image and in personality. It comes out in a lot of small ways, but the most obvious is his desire to please people. When he was small, this desire looked like consistently obeying our boundaries and doing whatever he could to make us laugh. This made for a very easy first child experience.
While most parents would have loved this (I definitely did), I was also slightly nervous because I knew what could happen to his heart even when his actions pleased me. I was a good kid who always obeyed the rules and wanted to please my parents and teachers, but inside I turned bitter and resentful and angry about always doing what others wanted me to, without consideration for my own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and questions.
So, I pray regularly that his inside would know and feel unconditional love. I would (and still do) tell him that even if/when he disobeys, I still love him. NOTHING can change my love for him. So, I think by having a kid so similar to me, it’s helped me to parent in a way that looks carefully and prayerfully at the heart instead of only at the actions.
Julie Kieras: I have one child who is very much unlike me. He is more reserved and has difficulty accessing his emotions and dislikes too much physical affection. I’ve learned to adjust my parenting to “coach” him through how he is feeling, even giving him the language he needs to express that he is sad, mad, frustrated. On the other hand, I have a younger boy who is very like me! He is emotional, exuberant, and needs lots of physical touch to feel and express his emotions. As much as it feels quite different to parent them, because of the expression of emotions is so distinct, this little boy still needs coaching to
express his emotions calmly and without aggression. It reminds me that the Bible verse “train up a child in the way he should go” applies to every kind of child. For both my boys, as different as they are, I am still “training” them to look to Christ for their strength, to communicate with soft words (one needs the words, and the other needs to be soft!)… I might be coming at them from different directions, but I am directing their hearts in the SAME direction. It’s amazing to see in action how Biblical principles of parenting apply no matter what type of child I have!
Kona Brown: I have two boys and I am surprised every day at how they differ from me but also how they differ from each other. From birth I have prayed that God would reveal to me the unique and individual temperaments that He has placed in each of them, so that I would parent them in line with the unique way that God designed them. “Train up a child in the way that he should go (and in keeping with his individual gift or bent) and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 AMP) So far I have discovered that my eldest is task oriented and good at taking charge, a bit like his mom. Engaging him on that level makes him feel understood and grows him in responsibility. My youngest is passionate, loyal, and a good listener (making him a humbling example to his momma, to whom those things don’t come naturally). In their differing temperaments I discover clues as to the potential challenges and strong points and inner motivations that God placed inside each of them.
Dusty Shell: One of my favorite things about parenting is seeing the individual personalities begin to shine through as my children grow. I have four children, two girls and two boys. Each one is very unique, but I’d have to say that (so far) my oldest is the most like me. We have very similar interests and I am constantly reminded of my own personality quirks through her. This has made parenting difficult at times because not only do I have to make sure that I am teaching, training, and disciplining as best I can according to God’s Word, but I am also often being shown a mirror into my own personal flaws and areas in which I need to work within myself. It’s humbling, but it also further strengthens my resolve to live my life in a way that honors the Lord.
Chere Williams: My daughter Anya is absolutely my mini me and not only in the physical sense! I recognize so many characteristics in my daughter that mirror mine… the good and not so good. On most days I feel at ease in parenting Anya. Our relationship at this point in our life tends to flow very naturally and this may be because of our similar nature. Ironically, since we are so much alike parenting can also be quite the challenge. Those traits or habits that I don’t quite care for that my daughter seems to possess are a very easy target for me to hone in on, which isn’t fair. For example, I get easily distracted and when I notice my daughter not staying on task I can quickly become impatient and get on her a little more than is really necessary. I realize that this is projection. I don’t want her to do what I do! When this happens I know I need to apologize and own up to my own shortcomings. Although we’re so much alike Anya is an individual set totally apart from me (did I mention she’s my hero?), and I have to intentionally treat her as her own person while acknowledging and reflecting this through my parenting. However, our similarities, especially the not so good stuff, has been a blessing. While I give my daughter the grace she needs in turn I’m learning to give myself a dose of grace for those not so great traits and for my own journey in parenting.
Charissa Kolar: My sons never voluntarily take a bath or wash their hands. They see the world like a comic book, you are either a hero or a bad guy. Every opportunity to wrestle to the ground, play tag, run your fastest, or compete at anything to exclaim, “I win!” is their favorite. They are physical, aggressive, and competitive. I am not like my boys in a lot of ways. But on the inside we are similar. My boys have tender hearts. I treasure that quality, and I am careful to preserve it. I easily feed them words of encouragement towards building good character and right behavior. What is not as easy to tackle is helping my 9-year-old son who struggles with self-discipline and time management. Daily he resists structured time to complete his homework, and nightly he laments bedtime routines. I am so much like him, yet I know achievements come by repetition. It is a struggle for me to keep us doing the same things, in the same general timeframe, week after week. Parenting my boys to shoulder their kid-sized responsibilities and be on time is also stretching me to model these virtues along-side of them.
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