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Children Don’t Come with How-To Manuals

Children Don’t Come with How-To Manuals

In last week’s blogpost, I mentioned the difficulty I experienced adjusting to our family’s move from New York to Ohio.  I really hated living in Ohio! I can laugh about it now…but in looking back I know that the move was for the best.  As an adult, and as a parent, I’ve come to understand the many benefits behind the move and the fact that decisions were made to strive for the best life for us.

When I think about all of the tough moves and decisions my parents made to provide the best they could for my brother and me, I didn’t appreciate or like them at the time. Now that I’m a parent, I’m reminded that whatever decisions made for my son’s benefit, he may not now understand or appreciate, but he will someday when he looks back…just like I did – or at least I hope he does.

Isn’t it funny how we look back on some of the things our parents did and said, and as parents, we find ourselves doing some of the same things? Especially as a teenager, when you think you knew everything – our parents would say certain things and we’d look at them like “Whatever!” or “What are you talking about???”  And then we begin “adulting” and having our own children and just like that – we get it.  That Aha moment that makes you smile and shake your head slowly at the realization.

I posted a question to my Facebook friends once that asked, “How old were you when you realized your parents were right?”  Most commented that they were well into their 30’s or 40’s before it all clicked.  That’s interesting, isn’t it?  Many of my peers are parents of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings (I started late so my son is in his late teens).  But no matter what, as parents, we wonder if our children will ever “get it” – even those who have finished school, have jobs or careers, children of their own, deep voices and beards…you name it; they look mature, so why hasn’t it clicked?  Well, my Facebook post respondents answer the question; all will not fall into place until later in life, if at all…

But that doesn’t mean you stop guiding and teaching and advising and being there for support because you don’t think they get it.  Or they say, “I’m grown now, I don’t need your advice!”  You never stop.  Because even after they get it, there is still much to be learned from our wisdom; especially since a lot of us are still learning too!  And I don’t want to even count how many times I learned something new from my child or my interaction with him!  Your children can always benefit from your knowledge and I believe there’s never a time that you are done parenting.

Children don’t come with how-to manuals.  There’s no blueprint or particular “way” to parent, no matter what the pundits and psychologists say.  It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child or children become productive citizens in the world.  If they leave the house to go off to college and out on their own and they don’t know how to do laundry – guess what?  They’ll learn!  Many are the lessons borne out of necessity.  It’s like when they were tots and you said “don’t touch the stove, it’s hot!”  Some inquisitive little kid is going to touch it anyway to see what “hot” feels like – and that’s how they find out that “hot” ain’t nothing to play with!

As parents, we make decisions for our children that may not turn out quite right.  But with a lot of prayer, and drawing on what your parents did (or didn’t do for that matter), you’ll do alright.  Let them learn some things on their own, let them bump their heads sometimes, let them figure it out (they’ve got Google for gosh’s sakes – something we didn’t have!).  Never stop guiding them on the straight and narrow; nudging them back on path here and there.  Show them love and appreciation.  Be lovingly critical.  Give them lots of hugs and turn them over to God and the Universe and they’ll be fine.

 

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Gail
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Gail

Love it Janine, keep writing and encouraging.

Janelle
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Janelle

Words of wisdom!!

Kitura
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Kitura

Janine, this was great! As my 17 year old approaches his senior year and I think back on if I’ve made the right decision sometimes, then I think about what you just said. There’s no manual and my decision was made based on the circumstances at that time. I’ve also realized that in order for him to learn, he must experience some situations..fall once or twice but know I will be there to support along the way! And yes…I’m learning from him along the way.

Once again, Great Job!!

Bettye Burney
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Bettye Burney

Wow, what a topic Janine. How to parenting manuals are inborn instincts. I believe our kids don’t understand sometimes just as we didn’t at their age, but they soon learn even if it’s shown by tough love. As a parent also, and remembering I’ve said a time or two, wow!!, mama/dad told me that, so our kids will one day say the same because they have to learn life skills when we put them down to walk. Putting a little humor in discipline works wonders (which definitely is not in the manual). It’s worked more for me since I’ve become… Read more »

Avis Pitts
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Avis Pitts

This really hit home Janine. My son’s in his late 30s & has had a lot of interesting things going on in his life. He started telling us he wish he had listened to us more a few years ago. It was good to hear but I wish he had taken our advice sooner. But like you said sometimes they have to learn the hard way.
Now this vs my daughter who always seemed like she was listening but now I’m learning & she’s telling me how much she really wasn’t. Go figure!
Thanks for your thoughtful words!

Lasonya Jones
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Lasonya Jones

I was in my late 20’s, early 30’s when I got it . There were so many aha momma moments. I recall my son being extremely mad when we moved just across town because I wanted a better life for him. He’s in his 30’s now and is doing great. He realized the why in his early 20’s and grew to appreciate it.

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