Life Lessons from a Wannabe Strawberry Plant

Remember my post a few weeks back (you can read it HERE) about how munchkin #2 waited 72 (I repeat, 72!) days for her strawberry plant to sprout? Here’s part 2 of this epic saga. Saga is the correct term because it means “a long story of heroic achievement”.

So thanks to a green-thumbed friend of mine who saw a photo of C’s plant on my Instagram, we learned the strawberry plant was in fact not a strawberry plant, but more likely a dandelion. When I broke the news to C, her whole body slumped as she wailed, “I’ve been growing a WEED?!”

Poor C. My disappointment was only a smidgeon of the shock and despair she was feeling. In that moment she wanted to give up. She was ready to hand over her bright green shoot of long, spiky leaves and have me take care of it. And quite honestly, I didn’t blame her.

I took a deep breath and racked my brain, trying hard to come up with something redeemable about the situation. I rubbed her back and said, “Sometimes things don’t work out the way we expect them to. You didn’t grow a strawberry plant, but you did grow something! You did a great job watering and taking care of it every day for so long. Now you know what it takes to grow a plant.”

Her answer? “I’m growing a weed!”

Yup. Such is life, my dear. 😛

I wish things were different. I wish one strawberry seed had made it so C could have something to show for her hard work and patience (because to an 8 year old, 72 days is like an eternity!). But in the midst of all our disappointment, I appreciated the life lesson this wannabe strawberry plant reminded me of: Things doesn’t always turn out the way we expect, but that doesn’t mean these experiences were for naught. The disappointments we face, the unexpected detours and U-turns we make, the epic failures we go through—they are what make us strong and resilient and persistent. Nope, they’re not fun or pleasant, but they build something precious and desirable: they build character. And the hard times are what make success and victory sweet.

This experience taught C so much, and I can see how her perspective has changed. Just this past weekend we decided to start a small garden in the backyard. C jumped at the idea and we all went to the store to buy seeds to plant. While C was browsing, she turned to the back of the seed packets to look for the number of days it would take before the vegetable could be harvested. Several times she remarked, “52 days? 66 days? That’s so fast!” I had to keep myself from laughing at her reaction. This was the same girl who had moaned and groaned for 72 days while she waited for her strawberry/dandelion plant to grow. But now? She’s become a pro at waiting. 🙂

So, I want to say thank you to the random dandelion seed who flew into our house and found the perfect place to land. You may be a weed, but you’re a wonderful weed. Thanks for the life lessons you taught my munchkin. But whatever you do, please don’t spread your seeds into our backyard. 😉

Here’s a picture of C’s weed. Next to it is some lettuce she’s growing, too (which is super easy to do; go here for instructions)!

Here’s an oldie but goodie, Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold On”, that talks about holding on through the hard times.

How have disappointments and failures shaped you?

Why Mother’s Day Isn’t for Moms

I’ve been blessed to be a mama for a decade now and the one thing I’ve learned as a mom is that you need to go in to Mother’s Day with the right expectations. 😉 Why? Because I used to think that this one day of the year would be an actual day where I could get away with sleeping in, having breakfast in bed, and generally speaking, not having to lift a single finger the whole day. How did I ever get this crazy idea in my head? Because I was led to believe that Mother’s Day is a day designated to celebrating moms. And when you’re expecting to be treated like the VIP that you are (wink, wink), you look forward to this day the same way that you look forward to going on a tropical vacation: You say “bring it on!”.

Well, soon after I experienced my first Mother’s Day, reality set in. Nope, I did not get to sleep in (because babies don’t understand the concept of sleeping in), I still had to change diapers and wipe little behinds, I still had to feed people, I still had to do whatever request a munchkin asked me to do because as moms all know, you’re the only one special enough to do such a request. 🙂 Dishes still piled up in the sink, the laundry baskets were still full and the bathroom was still the one place I couldn’t go alone.

I got to the point where I decided the best way I could enjoy Mother’s Day was to prepare myself for it. By prepare I meant doing the laundry (washing, drying and ironing) a day early. Vacuuming and mopping the floors earlier in the week. Making sure the fridge was stocked and would last us through the weekend. Doing any other things that needed to be done before Mother’s Day, so I could do what I was supposed to do on Mother’s Day: enjoy Mother’s Day. Pretty silly, huh? 😉

I came to the realization that my expectations were all wrong. I had set the bar so high for this one particular day. I didn’t want to do any housework. I didn’t want my kids to ask me to do anything for them. I wanted to be wined and dined (even take-out would be fine!) I just wanted the whole day to be perfect (is that too much to ask?!) LOL. I was essentially asking to not be a mother on Mother’s Day.

I’ve finally come full circle on this whole Mother’s Day issue. I now accept that Mother’s Day is not for me. 😉 It’s for my kids. It’s a day for them to look forward to as they wake up excited in the morning to bring me breakfast in bed. It’s a day where they have the chance to present me with a gift they made with their own little hands or bought with their own money. It’s a day for them to give me hugs and words of appreciation because they honestly think I’m one of the most important people in the world. It’s a day to marvel at their unconditional love for me just for being their mom.

It doesn’t get better than this! 🙂

So I’m good with Mother’s Day. I may even be looking forward to it this year. 😉 I hope you are, too. And if you’re still hoping for that one day a year where you don’t have to lift a finger and everything is perfect? There’s always your birthday. 😉

Here’s wishing you and your family a very happy Mother’s Day! Thank God for moms!

The Silver Lining to Sibling Squabbles

Last week was spring break, which meant a LOT of munchkin and mama time and not much mama-alone time. :O It also meant more opportunities for sibling squabbles because what do siblings like to do the most? Drive each other CRAZY. It’s like an unwritten rule in the sibling by-laws, maybe even rule #1. But because my younger sister and I are a decade apart in age, we never had our share of fights and I never understood what all this rivalry nonsense was about. If you don’t know either, it’s basically like an intense love/hate relationship with your closest ally/enemy.

Case in point: One day we were all in the car and hubby and I heard lots of yelling coming from the backseat. When we turned around, the kids had their arms around one another’s shoulders in a tight side hug and huge grins on their faces! When we faced forward, they started squabbling again, but as soon as we looked back, they were all hugs and smiles! It was HI-LA-RI-OUS.

Despite all the craziness that comes with sibling squabbles, I’ve discovered its silver lining: The munchkins have lots of chances to practice getting along. And I have lots of chances to help them. (Insert scared face here!) I’ll admit though that I am the most ill-equipped person when it comes to repairing relationships. In my marriage, there’s one person who’s known to shut down at the first sign of conflict (*ducking my head*). 😛 So, I’ve been learning along with the kids on how to get along.

Recently, however, I had a major breakthrough. So major that I wanted to give myself a pat on the back and I couldn’t wait to tell hubby about it. After yet another sibling squabble, one of the munchkins had slammed their bedroom door, forcing the other one out. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but I knew one of them had pushed the other one’s buttons. I also knew the button pushee would eventually get over it and make up with the button pusher because that’s how the dynamics of their relationship works. I was pretty fed up though with the whole situation and knew I had to address the issue—but how? I needed to give some better advice than, “Go make up NOW. And don’t do it again!” Then it came to me, “it” being my brilliant nugget of wisdom that I was about to impart. I said to the button pusher, “I know she’ll forgive you, but it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of her kindness.” And I followed it up with, “Be careful when you go to the bathroom; the floor’s wet.”

Boom! (That was the sound of me dropping my mic and exiting the room. Just kidding!)

What I liked about my response was that one, I kept my cool and delivered it in a calm but firm voice. Two, I attempted to address the heart (namely, the issues of gratitude, grace and forgiveness) and not just focus on the behavior. And three, I showed that I wasn’t necessarily taking sides and that I still cared about the button pusher because I didn’t want him to slip on the freshly mopped floor. It was the kind of “tough love” talk I’d always heard parents should give, but it was the first time the words had come out in a natural and sincere way.

It was seriously one of my proudest parenting moments (which aren’t many)! To be honest, I don’t know how much my words made an impact that day, or if they did at all. But the experience showed me that I have a little more insight now into repairing relationships. And it gives me hope that I (and the munchkins) will continue to learn more about how to get along with each other. Because there will be plenty more munchkin and mama times coming … especially during summer vacation, which is like ten times longer than spring break. (Insert scared face here again!)

P.S. This experience also reminded me of our relationship with God and the truth behind Romans 6:1-2: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” This could be a whole other blog post, one I’ll have to save for another day. 😉

I don’t really have a song that goes with this post, but I’ll leave you with Lindsey Sterling and The Piano Guys’ cover of the Mission Impossible theme song because parenting is all about getting the impossible done!

What have you learned about sibling squabbles? 

The Art of Waiting

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, I was met with some enthusiastic shouts of, “Sprout! Sprout! Sprout!” I turned to C with a curious look and repeated, “Sprout?” It took me a few seconds, but then I realized what she was referring to … her strawberry plant had FINALLY sprouted!!!

Here’s the sprout in all its glory!

Now, in case you don’t appreciate the magnitude of this news, let me tell you what it took for this little sprout to grow. According to the directions that came with the plant, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months for it to sprout. That equates to 60 to 90 days of watering, “sunning” and … waiting. That last part was definitely the hardest part of this journey for C. Every single morning she would wake up, go downstairs and check her plant. Then she’d record what day it was on her chalkboard. Day 1 turned into Day 15, then Day 33, then Day 58. When she reached Day 60, she exclaimed, “It’s been 2 months! Why isn’t it growing?” And I started to see the glimmer of hope in her brown eyes flicker. I continued to encourage and remind her that the instructions said 2 to 3 months (all the while, half-hoping and half-doubting that we’d see any results).

All hope was lost about two weeks ago when C was tossing a ball around the house and accidentally knocked the whole pot over! She called me for help—her voice low and flat—and showed me the damage. Most of the soil remained in a clump on the floor, but some of it had been scattered into pieces and had to be vacuumed up (RIP strawberry seeds!). I tried to keep my tone hopeful as I swept up the pieces and put them back into the pot. “Let’s wait and see!”

And wait we did. It got to the point where C decided to invest in a new succulent plant and transferred her ownership of the strawberry plant to hubby this week. She did still care about it though because she’d whisper to me, “Bob (short for Baba) didn’t water the plant today!” 😉 But all her hard work during the previous days and weeks and months had been worth something because after 72 days, it sprouted. 🙂

AT LAST!!

I told her, “Yay! I’m so proud of you! You persevered!” Her eyes lit up as she took the pot in her hands and gazed at the little green shoot. It was a defining moment in her life, folks. 🙂 And I mean that in a serious way.

Waiting has always been hard for C. She’s just wired differently from my other munckin (who shall not be mentioned on my blog anymore at his request, hehe), and it’s part of her nature to want results NOW. (Hmm, I wonder who she got that from—not me, cough cough!). So when she had first decided to grow this plant, I was very hesitant. All these thoughts ran through my mind: What if it never grows? What if she gives up after a few weeks? What if she’s terribly disappointed? Okay, so I was hesitant and doubtful. But as a parent, I’ve learned that you need to let kids experience struggle because it’s during the hard times that they learn the most. They learn about how the world works (you can’t always have immediate gratification) and they learn about how they themselves work and how they can change and adapt and grow to be more well-rounded people.

For C, she needed (and still needs) to learn the art of waiting. To be honest, we can all benefit from this lesson. Nobody likes to wait. Whether it’s waiting in line at the store, or waiting for your child to outgrow his tantrums, or waiting for the next job promotion, or waiting to find your spouse … there’s a whole lot of waiting going on in life. To master the art of waiting, however, requires 2 parts: hoping and doing. To hope without doing anything, well, you might as well forget seeing any results. C could have hoped all she wanted that her plant would grow, but without watering it daily, it would never have had a chance. And to do without hoping would be a pointless effort as well because it’s the hoping that inspires you to keep going; as in C’s case, her hope in the plant’s growth kept her watering it every single day. So, Hoping + Doing = The Art of Waiting

I admit this world gets me down a lot (especially when I read the news), but I also have hope that something better will come, that this life is not the end. I think this hope must have been what Jesus’s followers were feeling and hanging onto thousands of years ago when all seemed lost on that dark day when He hung on the cross. They really had the ultimate test of waiting it out as they held on to the hope that something would happen, that change would come in three days. And boy, they were not disappointed! When they heard and saw that Jesus had come back to life, that He had defeated death, that must have been an amazing morning. A hopeful morning. An it-doesn’t-get-better-than-this morning. 🙂

I hope you and yours have that kind of a morning this Easter as we reflect and celebrate the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection in our lives. And may we also come to believe that good things—growth, change and results—do come to those who wait. 😉 Have a Good Friday and Happy Easter!

What have you gone through to help you master the art of waiting?

When Failure Means Progress

For all of us in the U.S. (except for the lovely states of Hawaii and Arizona), there’s this wonderful day in March where we lose an hour of sleep every single year. And every single year, I—along with every parent in the country—dread this day. Well, actually most of us also dread the day we gain an hour each year because that means earlier wake-up times for the kiddos. (And all of us wonder if whoever started Daylight Saving Time had kids because no parent in their right mind would have thought this was a good idea! LOL) Anyhow, this year I wasn’t the only one dreading the time change; C was too.

Who else agrees?! LOL

For the first time in her life, she understood the logical consequences of DST. Specifically, that by losing an hour of sleep, she had to wake up an hour earlier … and if she couldn’t wake up at the right time, then she wouldn’t have enough time to do all the things she did in the morning before school and—BAM!—the world would end. (Where she gets this “all or nothing” way of thinking, I don’t know, cough cough!) The bottom line was: She had to wake up on time—or else! (To show how punctual she likes to be, let me tell you that she actually arrived on her due date, which supposedly only 5% of babies do.)

I tried to calm her fears by telling her that it wasn’t the first time she’d gone through DST. She’s had 7 years of experience losing an hour of sleep and everything turned out all right. And because DST starts at 2AM on Sunday, we have a day to practice getting up earlier. And most of all, everyone is tired and cranky after DST happens, so it’d be understandable if she was late to school on Monday.

Did my logical reasons convince her not to panic? Of course … not! 😛 So, like a lot of the time in life, I just had to let her face the problem and help her through it.

The morning after DST, she promptly announced, “I failed! I woke up late!” to which I replied, “It’s okay! You’re adjusting! It’ll get better. It takes a few days.”

This back-and-forth exchange happened every day this week, even today. But thankfully, the defeated tone in her voice has lessened little by little, day by day. As her mama, I hope and pray she’s learning that the world will not in fact end because things don’t go exactly the way she wants them to. That failure means progress, because you can always try again (and improve!). And that change and growth take time to produce. Most of all, I hope she takes this small lesson and applies it to the other hurdles she will face in life … especially next year when we’ll need to lose an hour of sleep again. 😉

I don’t think there’s any song out there about kids dealing with DST, but here’s one that’s literally for the children, New Kids On the Block’s “This One’s for the Children”.

How do you help yourself or your kiddos deal with change?

How a Blogger Respects Her Kid’s Wish for Privacy

One of my munchkins (who shall remain anonymous) told me recently, “I don’t want you to write about me or even say that you have a son.”

Aiya.

My response? “Okay. (Sigh) I won’t anymore from now on.”

Image courtesy of http://www.symbols-n-emoticons.com/2012/09/zipping-mouth-shut.html

So in case you wonder why I won’t be mentioning my firstborn child from now on in my blogs or anywhere on social media, you’ll know why. 🙂

I always knew the day would come when I’d have to respect my kids’ privacy online. I get it, especially since the child I’m talking about is an introvert like me. Even if he weren’t, I’d still understand why he doesn’t want his mom talking about him to the entire world. ‘Cause let’s face it, having a blog means everything you post is accessible to anyone and everyone on the planet. I respect his need to keep some things (actually, most things) about himself for himself.

This is specifically the reason why I don’t post pictures of my kids’ faces on this blog, but I do realize now that the stories I write about them—however cute and funny and sweet they may be—are as personal and identifiable as their photos are. And even though these stories often times impact me as their mom, they belong to them. These are their stories to tell.

So, what does this mean for this mama who loves to blog about her munchkins? Well, I’ll still be sharing about my experiences and lessons learned as a mom, just more in general terms. And more importantly, when I do want to write about my munchkins, I’ll ask for permission first.

How do you feel about sharing photos and stories about your kids on social media? 

Here’s a really creative rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by Kurt Hugo Schneider and Amazon Echo that the kids may (or may not) have enjoyed watching. 😉

When Your Kids Surpass You

There’s been a word tossed around the house a lot this week between the hubby and E. It’s only two syllables long, but when announced in a challenging tone, it’s powerful enough to get your adrenaline pumping. What’s the word?

Rematch!

Yup, every evening at dinnertime, either hubby or E will say, “Rematch!” And after dinner the two of them will get out the chess set and go to battle. 🙂

In the past, especially when E first started learning how to play chess, it came as no surprise that hubby would win most (if not all) of the games. These days, however, the playing field has been leveled. There are more cries of, “No way!”, “What?!”, and “I can’t believe it!” from poor hubby. Because it’s finally happened. Our 10 year old son can beat him at chess now. Here’s the photographic evidence. (To be fair, I missed the game where hubby beat him.) 😉

Amid hubby’s groans of shock and disappointment, I couldn’t help but smile. I gently commented, “But don’t we want our kids to be better than us?”

His answer? “Yes, but not this soon!”

LOL. 🙂

I get his point. I already got his point a year ago when E beat me at chess. I was okay accepting defeat, however, because chess isn’t my strong suit. But if E or C were to start correcting my grammar, that would be another story. 😉

But the funny thing about being a parent is that our job is to make sure our kids succeed. And succeeding often times means surpassing.

I, for one, hope my kids surpass me. I hope they have more confidence than me, will speak up for themselves and others more than me, and have a greater positive influence on the world around them. I don’t mind if they’re smarter, kinder, more generous and loving than both hubby and me. In fact, I want them to be the most awesome people they can be, even if that means we’re (slightly) less awesome than they are. 😉

Because then we’ll know we’ve done our job as parents well.

Here’s a song, “Believe” by Shawn Mendes, that talks about believing in people. May our belief in our kids help them to believe in themselves.

In what ways have you surpassed your parents? In what ways do you hope your kids will surpass you?

The Benefits of Crying

When the munchkins were younger, there was a lot of crying in our house. Actually, there was a lot of crying outside the house and in the car, too. Let’s just say that if we had collected all those tears they shed (as well as the ones I shed during their tantrums and meltdowns!), we could’ve helped out our drought-stricken state of California. 😉 Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past weeks to fill up those reservoirs and the kids are able to process their emotions a little more calmly these days.

I personally have a hard time staying calm when E or C gets upset, but hubby has the patience of a saint. Not only will he look at their red, open-mouthed faces with adoration, he’ll also tell them, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Just cry?! (Does that include me, too? LOL!)

But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years as a parent, it’s that one, kids cry a lot, and two, crying can be helpful.

Having been raised by my strict, no-funny-business grandma, however, I learned not to cry. I learned it was safer to stuff my emotions inside rather than show them. Which is why I struggle so much when the kids need to cry. And I use the word need because sometimes we just need to cry.

If you Google “benefits of crying”, you’ll find countless articles (here’s one) touting the physical and emotional benefits of tears. Crying releases toxins, helps you deal with stress, and makes you more mindful of your emotions and experiences. Moreover, shedding tears in front of people you feel safe with helps build your connection with them. So it’s a good thing to cry by yourself and with others! Crazy idea, huh?

But boy, does it feel good to turn on the waterworks once in a while, especially if you tend to be more of an uptight and anxious person (if you are, welcome! you’re in good company here). 😉 The thing with crying though is that if you don’t allow yourself to do it regularly, you can get out of practice. And no amount of sheer willpower can force the tears to fall (unless maybe you’re an actor). What do you do then? Watch a sad movie or TV show or read a sad story or listen to a sad song. I stumbled upon this solution recently when I started watching NBC’s This Is Us. If you haven’t heard of this show, you need to check it out. I guarantee you will shed a few (or more) tears each and every episode. Just make sure you don’t watch it right before you have to pick up the kiddos from school—I learned this lesson the hard way! 😉 This show is now my regular “therapy session” where I tell myself, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Because it is so okay to cry. Crying is good for our body, mind and soul. So give it a go sometime soon. And take comfort in the fact that your tears do not go unnoticed. As it says in Psalm 56:8,

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

This song gets me every time. Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Heaven is the Face” is a song about the passing of his daughter, but it also speaks of our hope in God to one day be with Him in a place where we’ll no longer have a need to cry.

What were you taught about crying? What do you believe about it now?

Lessons Learned from the Small Things

Since the end of a year usually gets me thinking and reflecting, I asked the munchkins a question on the last day of 2016 to get them thinking and reflecting: What did you learn this year?

They answered me with blank stares and full mouths (it was dinnertime), so I tried to help them out a little.

“You guys learned to swim!” (Which was nothing short of a miracle for two kiddos who had never intentionally put their heads in the water before this summer. Now they race to see who can jump into the pool first!)

“We learned how to knit.” (Thank you, YouTube videos.)

E finally swallowed and added, “I learned algebra.” (Simple algebra in 4th grade? Craziness, I tell ya.)

I turned to C and reminded her, “You learned how to do a handstand!”, to which she enthusiastically nodded.

Wow. What a year.

These were some major milestones for the kids, milestones I wish could be captured in more than a few words or sentences.  Saying, “You guys learned to swim!” doesn’t do the experience of learning how to swim justice. Five words aren’t enough to describe the endless hours it took for E and C to overcome their fears enough to trust us to hold their hands when they gave up their swim floaties. To trust that their goggles would keep the water out of their eyes (and still go underwater even when they didn’t). And to trust that the fun of jumping into the water would be worth the butterflies they felt in their stomachs as they stood on the edge of the pool. Learning how to swim was a culmination of years and years of patience, perseverance, courage and faith for all of us, especially the patience part for hubby and me. 😉 Even though it seems like the kids accomplished this achievement in 2016, you could say they started learning how to swim 10 and 7 years ago.

Isn’t that the case with a lot, if not most, of the lessons we learn in life? Learning something new takes time—minutes, hours, days and years of time.  And the little mundane things we are learning today are necessary and important lessons we need in order to accomplish something bigger in the future.

That’s what I was thinking about the other night when C and I were wrangling some yarn. You may think the word wrangle would apply better to a herd of cattle or horses, but believe me, this yarn had a mind of its own. It was perfectly coiled when I bought it, but over the course of a few weeks, it had become a crazy tangle of a mess. And before I could use it again I had to tame the wild beast.

This beast has a cute name though: Cupcake Sprinkles. 😉

So that’s what we set out to do. I found one end and began wrapping it around my hand while C picked it apart and released its knots. She kept exclaiming, “This is going to take hours!” to which I replied through gritted teeth, “No, it won’t!” Truthfully though, it did take most of the evening to unravel. But through it all, we persevered. We cheered when we could pull more than a foot of yarn at once and booed when we encountered a knot. I was impressed with C’s patience and complimented her on it, especially when we traded tasks and I got the hard job of untangling the knots. When we traded back, she told me with confidence, “Watch and learn!” as she masterfully tamed that yarn, inch by inch. It was a wonderful sight (and a relief!) when we were all done.

Lesson learned? The task of unravelling the ball of yarn may have seemed mundane and a waste of time, but it was much needed and in preparation for something bigger. Like being able to knit this cute hat for my niece.

As you can see, I did a lot of knitting over winter break. 🙂 I also made a hat for C to match her cousin’s, as well as a bag for her stuffed chick (not pictured here).

So, yup, as we start this new year, I’m reminding myself to take baby steps as I set my goals. Sure, I’d love to be able to write more books than I did last year, but what’s important is that I just show up and write. Word by word, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph. Because all these small steps will add up and come together to form something beautiful  … just like that crazy ball of yarn did.

Here’s the song C and I listened to on repeat(!) while we were wrangling the yarn. It’s called, “Up, Up and Away” and it’s from one of the American Girl movies, Grace Stirs Up Success. The main character in the film also learned the importance of taking small steps (ie. cracking an egg with one hand) in her quest to become a Masterchef Junior baker.

What small steps are you learning today that will help you to accomplish bigger things in the future?

Why You Need to Treat Your Kids Differently

When munchkin #1 was small, I read a parenting book in which the author (a pediatrician with 8 kids!) said he parents each one of his children differently. As a mom of a high need baby, I was so worn out by carrying and nursing him almost 24/7, my jaw dropped when I read that line. I remember telling hubby about it and declaring that, “This guy is crazy! How can a parent have the mental, emotional or physical capacity to use a different parenting style for each kid?” I was having a hard enough time just keeping mine alive … seriously! 😉

It wasn’t until munchkin #2 showed up that I began to understand why we need to treat our kids differently. Of course I love, appreciate, and value both of my kids as equally as my imperfect self is able to, but I don’t always treat them the same. Why? Because they have completely opposite personalities and temperaments. Yup, you could say hubby and I successfully cloned ourselves, haha.

E was (and still is) the most careful, cautious, and detailed kid I know. Even as a baby, he knew without us ever mentioning it that the top of the stairs was a dangerous place to be. He would always steer clear of it, going so far as to stick to the wall opposite of the staircase as he walked by. What about C? This adventurous, fun-loving kid is the reason they invented baby gates and why we finally had to buy and install one at the top of the stairs. She’s also the one who insisted on trying salsa as a toddler and wouldn’t stop crying about it until hubby gave her a bite … then resumed her crying when she realized it was as spicy as we said it’d be! E, on the other hand, would’ve heeded our warning the first time we gave it (I think he only tried salsa recently!).

That said, E and C are very people. And different people have different strengths and weaknesses. They also have different needs.

E needs lots of downtime and touch, so after school I’ll sit with him on the couch as I work and he reads or plays on the iPad. I’ve gotten used to him resting his foot on my leg or sitting close enough so our knees touch. He does his thing and I do mine and he’ll occasionally pause to show me a cool app he downloaded or ask me to choose a robot for him to use in a game.

C needs attention, but action, too. For her we’ll snuggle together for a bit, then play a board game or cards. She’ll draw pictures and have me color them. When we sit together on the couch, it’s more face-to-face so she can tell me—in great detail—about her day. I know all about who likes who in her 2nd grade class (man, are kids maturing faster these days or what?!) and what they ate for so-and-so’s birthday celebration (the last one was Oreo cookies in 2 flavors).

And because our munchkins are so different, we encourage and discipline them in different ways, too. We are a little more lax with E since he’s so rule-based already, but are a bit more strict with C because (as hubby understands all too well), she tends to push the limits. We push E more to try new things because he likes to play it safe (hm, I wonder where he got that from?), and we support C whenever she has a new interest (her latest thing? spy gadgets!).

So I totally understand now what the good doctor was saying about treating each one of his kids differently. It’s not because we love one more or less or want to show grace more to one than the other. It’s because we’re trying to love and nurture them in the specific ways they need to be loved and nurtured so they have the best chances of becoming the man and woman God intended them to be.

I like how this parenting article I read recently put it (it’s one of the best I’ve read, seriously!): “If we are in tune with the characteristics that make our child unique, we will have a better understanding of when they may need additional support, and when and where they will thrive.”

I love how the writer used the word thrive. Sure, the first step we parents need to do is to keep our tiny humans alive. But hopefully, with God’s grace, we can move beyond that to help them do more than survive: To thrive.

Take a listen to Shawn Hook & Kurt Hugo Schneider’s cover of Hercules’ “Go the Distance”. May we help our kids to go the distance in life.

What kind of parenting style did you receive and how did it help or hinder your growth?