This month I’m living out of all what Fledge is about. Raising. Releasing. And the end of parenting kids in childhood.
As my youngest received several scholarship and leadership awards, along with being a valedictorian and class president, there was a feeling of finishing well. In God’s grace, this is where we are. The Life Beyond the Picket Fence blog has also chronicled when things were not well over the last decade. God’s grace was ever more there, too.
I’m speaking to moms on things I’m glad I’ve done raising kids and things I wish I would have done differently. I wrote a similar post to this on raising girls years ago. Here are my thoughts about the whole shebang.
Things I’m Glad I Did Raising Kids
Stayed home with them when they’re young.
Worked when they were older at professions I love.
Grew personally while I was growing them, pursuing my dreams while fostering theirs.
Spent The Most Important Moments with them, which couldn’t be planned, like conversations at bedtime, in the car, and other places where they open their heart.
Said no and put boundaries around potentially harmful things at appropriate ages, like internet use, cell phones, other media, and things they weren’t equipped to handle on their own.
Had hard conversations about things before they happened, as they happened, and after they happened, rather than them or pretending they didn’t touch our lives.
Had an open-door policy about anything they had questions about, were struggling with, things they had done.
Took each of them on a road trip right around age 14.
Made church a priority, and attended one where older people were invested in their lives.
Said yes to things that were growing opportunities for them, but were also an inconvenience to us.
Repeated our family scripts often: “I have to answer to God for what I knowingly allow in your life.” “As a Christian, you’re a leader.” “Your relationship with God is your own.” “We’re a family.” “That doesn’t honor God.”
Found activities when they were young that fostered their strengths, rather than letting them feel like their differences were something that was wrong with them.
Went on family vacations, though most were on a tight budget.
Made them get jobs and had them do chores throughout their childhood.
Let them play.
Read them books.
Sang to them.
Prayed with them at night.
Asked for forgiveness.
Let them struggle.
Had family worship time on Sunday nights.
Listened to my gut (the Holy Spirit).
Spent time studying God’s word and listened to sound Bible teaching.
Let them have friends whose families had similar values.
Limited their activities when they were young.
Trusted God for their successes rather over-involving them out of fear they’d miss out.
Asked for God’s perspective in situations I didn’t understand.
Believed God’s word for direction in parenting and personal conviction.
Tried to live honestly in front of them.
Valued God’s opinion above man’s.
Went on day trips with each of the kids each summer.
Things I Wish I Would Have Done Differently
Not reacted when my kids were having meltdowns or were out of control.
Knew how to regulate my emotions and realized how our responses impact our kids.
Realized how important words are to kids when they are young.
Spend less time being upset over stupid things.
Understood the differences between frustration tantrums and true oppositional behavior.
Asked more questions when they were younger and I thought I knew everything.
Would have walked away earlier and more often.
Knew about the range of emotions kids have.
Have never, ever, engaged in a power struggle.
Not taken their behavior so personal towards me.
Would have laughed more.
Had a mentor just a few steps ahead of me.
Said “no” to things earlier that I had no business being busy with outside of my family when they were young.
Said “yes” more often when they were younger.
Gave grace to my kids earlier and more often.
Gave grace to myself more often and earlier.
Knew more about self-care.
Had other moms to really talk to who wouldn’t judge.
Had known I wasn’t alone.
For all of the other things I’ve learned that you can benefit from, get Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind.
Mother’s Day is coming up, friends. Give grace to yourself. All of us have done the best in parenting with what we knew at the time. But once you know, do better and different.
What about you? What are you thankful you have done while parenting? What are things you wish you’d done differently?
I hope you have a great Mother’s Day! Get a copy of Fledge for a mom with a graduate of any kind or one whose in the trenches of raising teens or a new empty nest mom. And if you think about it, pray for me as we go through our final “lasts” this month with our graduate!