Thursday, October 15, 2009

My confession - how I screwed up as a parent

Normally I can brush off any criticism I get for having so many children.  Typically I chalk it up to ignorance or stupidity.  But one I actually fell for.  I admit it, I don't have it all together.  There are some things I haven't figured out, I have weaknesses like everyone else.  One criticism hit too close to home and I fell for it.

I grew up the oldest of 6.   I had a lot of responsibility growing up since my brothers were so much younger than I.  The youngest is 14, to give you an idea of the age range.  Everyone had pity on me, that I had lost my childhood.  Yet I never felt any such remorse.  I liked being from a big family.  I didn't mind changing diapers and bathing babies, I didn't mind the baby sitting and little kids getting into my stuff. I wasn't bitter, I actually liked it.  Liked it enough to have my own big family.  But I had heard stories, stories where people resented being from a big family. That they had too much responsibility, they weren't allowed to be kids, they didn't get one on one time with their parents like their smaller family counterparts.  I had decided I didn't want to risk that.  I wasn't going to make my kids do things that *I* should be doing.  The diaper changes, the bathing the babies, the making meals and the babysitting.  That was my job and I was gonna do it all and let them be kids.

Oh what folly!  Where was my wise counselor?  Where was a friend to slap me upside the head and straighten me out?  Where was my common sense?  How could I have fallen for such nonsense? 

It was only a few weeks ago I taught one of my daughters how to change a diaper.  It was before this realization came to me.  But I figured, "you know she should probably know how to change a diaper."  I mean she couldn't babysit, she would be totally lost as a new mother, etc etc.  It just seemed like a good idea and she was willing to learn. But what about all the other stuff?  I had guilt.  And a headache.  I was overwhelmed trying to do everything myself.  "You had these kids, you knew what you were in for." Yes, thank-you, I do know what I got myself into.  But still I turned out pretty well.  It can't be that bad to do these things.  Can it?

Ah! Inspiration.  Or God.  Probably God.  But it was inspiring! A Bible Passage came to me.  I am pretty sure this passage has been here, oh 2000 years or so, so where was it 10 years ago?  Matthew 25:34-40
34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

If we are to do to the least of these, strangers, which there are a lot more of in this world than family, how much more should we be helping our family.  Those who love us and those that we love?  Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  What I was taught as a child is hard to learn in other areas of  life: to help other people, to think of others before you think of yourself, to be independent.  I learned basic life skills like: how to cook, how to take care of children, to change diapers and dress a squirmy baby..  I learned spiritual lessons : how to love, to teach, and to give.  I wasn't sparing my children from too much responsibility or preventing them from growing up too fast.  I was teaching them to be selfish and to expect something from everyone instead of learning to give and how to be selfless.

I am not making excuses for why I think they need to help out around the house. That would be an easier pill to swallow than to think I did some disservice to my children.  I will teach them how to think about others first, how to love one another, to have patience, how to give and I will teach them skills like how to cook and clean and care for those who can't care for themselves. They will learn it like people have learned it for millenia, by helping out in a big family.

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