My father-in-law who is a very wise Godly man, works in an auto shop. Every three thousand miles I drive my vehicle to him and he changes the oil, checks the tires, and puts up with my incessant talking. One of those days when my oldest daughter was only five years old, I was complaining about something or other, but it had to do with a frustration I had over a decision my five year old daughter made.
Now, keep in mind, he raised six children into successful adults. Successful being the operative word, because I believe that if you want to know how to parent well, look at those who have gone before you. If you see someone who had results in any area of life whether it be business, parenting,or crafting that you respect then they are probably someone you should listen to. So I knew when he spoke that it came from years of experience with both trials and successes and a place of wisdom. So I listened.
Now, I don't remember what she did, so it must not have been significant, but it was a normal parenting frustration that I am sure all mothers and fathers have had and I was annoyed.
He patiently listened to me, as he normally does, then said something I won't forget. "Well, you cannot expect her to think like an adult, because she is not an adult. The only thing you can expect her to do is to think like a five year old. "
I know it seems like common sense, and there should not have been an epiphanic moment (not a word, but you get what I mean), but there was. As she has grown, I have had to remind myself of this fact over and over. I can only expect her to think like the age she is. A child's brain does not fully develop until nearly 25, which means you have done the bulk of your raising long before their brain is even done developing.
So sometimes, when my hot-head gets ahead of me, I will stop (usually after I get unreasonably angry and need to apologize) and reflect on what is really going on. More often than not, I realize instead of disciplining, I need to teach. Now there is definitely a time for punishments, but often children do not fully realize the ramifications of their actions. Even at eighteen when their bodies look full-grown, their minds are still maturing. Before we blow up (or if you are like me, after we apologize for blowing up), we need to stop and ask ourselves, what do they need to learn.
Now, don't get me wrong, if my daughters do anything that they know is wrong, there will be a punishment, but it's never just a punishment. Often, specifically with my older daughter who is at an age that can reason, there is a lot of talking. Explaining why there is a particular rule and what the long term natural consequences are. Lead her to what my adult brain already knows. Sometimes, she knows the consequences, so its good to have her explain them to me. She may not take them as serious because she is still just a child and has not seen or experienced life as much as I have, which is why patience is so incredibly important. They really don't know why something made you that angry, because they don't know what took you years to learn, often the hard way.
This piece of wisdom does not fully leave me unfrustrated when my toddler acts like a toddler and my teen acts like a teen, but what it does help me to do is to help them grow. Take them from the knowledge and understanding of where they are and try to stretch it just a little further. It also teaches me to be more patient and understanding when they do fail, for all children will. Heck us parents do too.
After six years of infertility, she was blessed with the adoption of her oldest daughter who now is a teenager. Six years later, she finally became a mother a second time, this time with a baby through a donated egg and ivf. Throughout that time, she fostered nine babies and toddlers, met wonderful women who helped her grow, and learned to rely on Jesus. She started this blog with the hope that she could share her joy, experience, and willingness to grow with others, whether they battle infertility, toddlers, or teens.