The Dirty Little Secret Parenting Books Won’t Tell You

On Friday night, my kids usually watch a movie. Last night, we got a late start to the movie…so it went well past bedtime. About halfway through the movie, Levi (who will be three next week) asked if I would put him in bed.

As I was scratching his back, I laughed how it’s only taken me four kids to finally have one who willingly goes to bed.

The other three act shocked every single night when I announce it’s bedtime. Their bedtime routines are excruciatingly long and involve needing water 47 times.

I often say the benefit of having four kids is perspective. With four very different personalities, I have figured out that most of my kids’ behavior has almost everything to do with them and very little to do with me.
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I definitely believe parenting matters and investing into our children is important…and I have made a lot of choices to do just that.

However, I can only do my part. I can’t decide what the outcome will be.

I have one child who tells the truth at any cost. And another child who lies for the fun of it.

Some of my children are compliant. Some live to defy me.

One child took over a year to potty train. Another took a day. (And yet another remains unpotty trained because I can’t work up the energy.)

All of my kids are funny. One is witty. One silly. Another creative. And one who excessively uses potty humor. He says his catch phrase is “Oh my buttness”. Your guess is as good as mine as to where he got this.
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Some of my kids make me look like an awesome mom. Some of my kids make me look like the worst mom. And it just depends on the day which kid I am talking about!

I don’t know what it is about our culture, but we like to assign blame for things. I think if we can find a reason behind someone’s bad behavior, we feel like it won’t happen to us because we don’t do that. Whatever that happens to be.

We like to believe that good kids must be a result of good parenting.
And difficult kids…well, that’s the parent’s fault.

I am sorry to burst the proverbial bubble, but it’s just not true.

While I try to do my absolute best as a mom, I have discovered that I can’t take too much credit for my children’s successes and I can’t take too much responsibility for their failure.

This is kind of infuriating, if I can be honest. I would like to be assured that if I work hard enough and do everything possible to raise my kids well that they will turn out exactly how I envision. I would like to know that my sacrifice will be worth it.

But I know that’s not true. I can do everything possible, and my kids still get to decide who they become.

This is scary. But it’s also liberating.

My children who are compliant and sweet…it’s just who they are.
My children who are defiant and wild…it’s just who they are.

This is the gift of four children. My parenting is pretty consistent. My children are not.

If you’re a mom of one wild child who never listens, you may be tempted to think something is wrong with you…especially if you compare yourself to the mom of the precious little child who plays quietly and never gets in trouble.

I am the same mom to all of my kids, and I have both of these children.

If you’re the mom of the precious little child who rarely gets in trouble, you may be tempted to think your parenting skills are superior…and possibly judge the mom of the wild child…I would advise you to not have any more kids. Because if you do, I promise your day will come.

Ask me how I know.

Whichever kid you have, be kind to yourself and gracious with others. We have exactly no control over the personality our children are born with. We have exactly no control how other factors (such as birth order) play into that personality.
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Your children’s behavior (good or bad) is not a reflection of your parenting. It is a reflection of their personality.

The next time your child is having an epic meltdown…or bites a kid in daycare…or farts in the grocery store…remember it’s not your fault…it’s simply part of their genetic make-up.

Genes they obviously got from their dad.

One thought on “The Dirty Little Secret Parenting Books Won’t Tell You

  1. This is fabulous, Sarah. It’s always scary for me to give up control. Seems easier to believe the lie that I have complete control. Of course, that never works out in the long run. Never. Thanks for telling the truth!


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