How My Parenting Has Changed Over the Years

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This was a very difficult time in my life.  I was going through postpartum depression; I was raising 3 babies, 4 and under, by myself pretty much (Robert worked ALL the time).  Joey had just committed suicide (a few months earlier).  I was in a fog to say the least.  Behind that smile was a lot of pain.

I would barely survive the day and as soon as Robert got home, I would hand him the baby and leave.  Not every day, but a lot of days.  I didn’t keep up with laundry, clean the house, cook.  I just survived.

I did NOT feel like a good mom.  But I did the best I could under the circumstances.  I couldn’t help that Joey had just died.  I couldn’t help that I was going through postpartum depression.  I couldn’t do anything about the fact that Robert worked so much (We ended up leaving the camp we were at because of that, and life was still hard in different ways, but have never regretted leaving!).

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As you can see, we all look different these days.  Karis is now almost 11, Levi just turned 7, and Ethan is 8 1/2.  We have much more fun with our kids!

Since the earlier picture, I have been hospitalized twice for my mental health, I’ve been diagnosed properly, I am on great meds, I have been treated for alcoholism and work hard to stay sober, I have all day to take care of the house and laundry so I’m not feeling overwhelmed anymore (because the kids are in school), and I no longer try to work (because I know that I can’t… I’m fighting for disability now).

My parenting has changed over the years, my view of myself as a mom has changed, it has been over 7 years since Joey died, we are at peace with and love where we live and our life here at Camp Eagle (we will be here indefinitely unless God calls us elsewhere), the kids are in an amazing school where they are loved and valued, I’m much more patient, my house stays mostly clean, the kids can do chores (and they are excited about it with a sticker chart/rewards!), and so much more.

How am I different as a mom?

Well, for one, we rarely spank now.  When they were younger I spanked often out of anger.  I would spank and spank because I didn’t know what else to do.  I would spank Ethan so much that it hurt me as much as it hurt him.

Ethan threw a LOT of huge tantrums.  Those didn’t stop until the past few years.  He did throw some when I was homeschooling him, but he would do them in his room and come out just fine.  He has since stopped them completely.  I have taught him how to control himself better and he uses those skills (lots of pausing, breathing, and figuring out what emotion he is feeling).  Going to school has really helped him in this area.  I am much more patient with him and use a different form of consequences.

Typically, with the kids, we ground them and/or take away privileges.

It helps that their teachers give them consequences at school.  We (almost) always support the teacher (even if we don’t agree) and give them a consequence at home.  They rarely get in trouble at school these days!

They love their Wii U, Kindles, Minecraft, etc.  They don’t get to play on them all the time, but they lose the privilege for a few days to a week if they do something that deserves a consequence.  Sometimes we ground them from playing with friends (this is huge for Ethan and Karis).  We spank sometimes, but it’s usually for something big where they need a spanking and another consequence.  This is rare.

We have a conversation with them about why.  We discuss what the purpose of their decision was.  We talk to them about having control over their actions and how they interact with their siblings and/or friends.  We discuss the implications of their choices and how they affect others.  We talk about how they would feel if that was done to them.

We try to not discipline in front of friends, but sometimes we have to.

We use rewards when we can.

Are we always perfect at this?  No.  Do we yell?  Sometimes, but not near as much as we used to.

The thing that helps all of this is that the kids are older, able to discuss things, able to work through emotions, and able to control themselves better.  It makes a huge difference!

We have also learned what works for each child.  This has taken a long time to learn through trial and error.

It really helps that I’m not with them all day, every day.

I was much less patient when they were home all the time.  I was much less patient when I was homeschooling them.

They get what they need at school (social interaction with kiddos their age, being challenged, etc), then they come home and do homework and chores.  They have routine every day (which was lacking when I homeschooled them, mostly because I was either drinking or hungover).

My favorite part of the day is bedtime.  Most nights (not all) we read the Bible or a devotional.  We read out of a chapter book, we sing a worship song, and we pray (usually Ethan prays… it is precious).  I end most days (not all) in bed with each kid, talking to them about their day, their feelings and emotions, and what God is doing in their lives.  Most nights I end this time praying for them (not every night).

Karis and I have a Google Document where we write each other back and forth.  This has helped our relationship a lot!

Last night both Levi and Ethan made the decision to accept and follow Christ!  They prayed and asked for forgiveness, they understood the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross (and as Levi said, he washed away our sins!), they prayed for the ability to repent from their sins, and they decided to serve Jesus all the days of their lives (Ethan realized that what we do here at camp is serving Christ)!

I also discussed this with Karis again because she accepted Christ at a very young age and I wanted to make sure she understood.

They are all ready to be baptized!  We started going to a new church (very small church plant), and the pastor wants to have a little class with them before they get baptized.

We are also going to join the church.  We feel at home there.  I still want to talk about some things with the pastor that are different for me, but I’m sure it will be fine.  We’re looking forward to it!

I will always have something that isn’t perfect.

I get worn sometimes on the weekends when they are home all day.  Sometimes I let them play on electronics too much.  We often forget to have them brush their teeth at night.  When they are home for lunch, they often eat chicken nuggets and mac n cheese.  We don’t always eat healthy, but I’m okay with that.  We sometimes yell at them.  Sometimes I spoil them with too much candy, too many snacks, and sometimes I do too much for them that they can do themselves.  Recently I caught myself enabling them by making their beds, etc.  Robert reaffirmed this.  I am remedying that.  They have been cussing lately because they are learning new words on the bus with high school students.  We’re working on what words are not appropriate to say :-).  It’s new to them so it may take a bit of time.

Being imperfect keeps me humble and helps me rely on Jesus more.

I’m thankful that God has helped me learn how to be a better parent.  I have a long way to go, and that’s okay.  I’m just thankful that life is much more peaceful these days.

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