Parenting is hard

I have entered into a new realm of sowing tears and reaping joy…we have 2 teenagers and now 4 middle schoolers!  Our youngest somehow is about to enter her final year of elementary school.  How is this even possible!!!  Once upon a time I was longing for this day of big kids and self sufficient mini adults…I did not once consider the drama and moodiness that this new era would bring with it.  Every time I feel like I have figured them out, we get thrown a curve ball, or some sort of life altering catastrophe.  Actually, this whole thing has a striking resemblance to their toddler years.  One minute they are totally normal and then the next, the whole world is out to get them and no one likes them and they don’t have any friends and EVERYBODY spends time together without them.  Life in middle school is hard.  Period.  Throw in cell phones, texting, social media and the forever ongoing “cliques”, todays kids don’t have a fighting chance!

Imagine your middle school self, just trying to fit in, or trying to find your own circle of friends, and add in social media. You are now privy to every activity your so called friends and peers post, who they are with, who likes their most current post, who has the most followers, and every single thing you were not included in. (Even though you are posting things with others and doing all of the above mentioned things as well.) Total devastation has set in.  Que the, perfected in infancy, pouty bottom lip.  Or the silent sulk. These do nothing for your mother.  She constantly is reminding you that this too shall pass and that middle school is only 3 short years of your very long life.  Dad however just wants to fix it (sometimes), he is the always, “Is everyone happy?” dad. If not, he needs to make it better.  More often than not, this is in vain.  Just like the temper tantrums they threw as toddlers, you just have to walk away sometimes.  Remove them from danger or any thing that is potentially harmful, and let them have at it.  In our house, one child constantly loses the phone.  It is her life line, her social circle, her entire reason for being!!!  Our other child is engrained in video games and therefore our go to punishment for him is loss of gaming!  The audacity!!!  But parenting 5 kids is a challenge!  They all have different personalities and punishments must fit each individual child.  We like to hit them where it hurts.  Taking away something they love is hard, but often necessary.  Each child loves something differently.  One can be sent to her room to do nothing…pure torture!!!  Four cannot be sent to their rooms, this is a treat in a house of 7!  Children do not come with instructions, guide books, nor can they tell you what they need.  Our job as parents is to help create functioning people in an adult world.

We are constantly praying for our children.  Teaching them that there are consequences for their actions, both good and bad.  Choices they make in life affect people all around them, not just themselves.  They must understand that rules and laws are in place for a reason and the rules apply to everyone!!!  We are not perfect parents and our children are not perfect either.  We will fail and disappoint them, they will stumble and fall and make bad choices.  It is part of life, learning and growing.  It is our job to love them unconditionally and to let them know that no matter where they are in life, we are here to help them through and pick them up if necessary.  Parenting in a blended household is not always easy.  But no matter what is going on, we show a united front.  We can discuss our different opinions away from the kids, but we respect and support one another in our parenting.  We are teaching grace and forgiveness.  Something none of us deserve, but thankfully God gives us endless grace and forgiveness every day!

By Laurel Austin Henson

Laurel spent 8 months caring for her first husband after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He passed away at 33, leaving behind a daughter of 7 and 5 year old twin boys. After sowing millions of tears, Laurel sought out God daily and began to plan for a life of being a single mother, but ready to raise their children in faith, hope and love. God gave her more than she could have ever imagined when she brought Matt into her life, along with his 2 children. He was recently divorced and the providence of God had been leading up to this life for more than 20 years! Now Laurel is reaping joy with Matt and their 5 beautiful children. Thanks be to God for all the beauty created from the ashes of death and divorce.

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