Treating Children as Individuals

Confession time: lately, between nighttime feedings, trying to carefully use our pre-made frozen meals, and snuggling with this new little fun person in our family, I've found myself making blanket statements to our three oldest children:
"Go find something to do that doesn't involve bothering each other."

"Everybody just grab a book and pick a couch that someone else isn't sitting on and READ!"

"Go pick a toy and play with it. By yourself. NOW."

And while I realize that these are some of the most difficult times-- transition as a family, lack of sleep, emotional and hormonal upheaval-- and while I recognize that this is merely survival mode... I still can hear myself reminding me, "they are each individuals-- you need to be parenting each one wisely!"

We try to do this normally-- assessing each one and trying to meet his/her needs and help him/her to rein in/fight those things that are problem areas. But I'm definitely having to be more intentional about it in this time of transition. It's so easy to let things go-- but they need me now too. They need me to still meet their needs- and that includes character needs.

The one who needs to be taught that emotions are not for manipulating others. The one who needs to learn to sit still, stop fidgeting and PAY ATTENTION, at least for a few minutes a day. :) The one who needs to learn the joy of focusing on making others happy rather than himself. The one who needs to stop hitting at the slightest hint of frustration. The one who needs more affection normally anyway. The one who needs face-to-face time together. The one who longs to be particularly near me throughout the day. I've got to keep these things in mind, even as I'm adding a new personality and new routine to the mix of our family dynamics.

It ain't easy, but if I can just put it (and keep it) in perspective, it'll be eternally worthwhile.


J. Story said...

What a wonderful reminder. My seventh child is just four months old and I amazed that I forget about this crazy "adjustment" period every time. You would think that I would have this all under control by now! It is a challenge to consistently parent keeping in mind the individuality of each child. Challenging but not impossible. God is pleased to make me strong through my very weaknesses. Keep up the good work.

helpmeetintraining said...

Your children are so blessed to have you as their mother! Congrats on your newest babe :)

Kim said...

Thanks for this.

My struggle currently is wanting to just "sit for a few minutes," and it turns into wasted time. YES, I am tired, and yes, my body currently hates me (I am training for a race), and yes, I have eight million things on my plate and yes, they are all high pressure. But that doesn't give me any right to succumb (sp?) to laziness. By pressing on now, I build endurance, and am closer to the Goal!

Praying for you, dear sister. And thank you for sharing pictures of what must be the cutest little transplanted Texan I've seen in a while... ;)

Anonymous said...

Hang in there! There' nothing wrong with explaining to your children that you are tired and that you are getting used to a new little one! I have eight children and somehow (by the grace of God) I didn't burn out my oldest (who is almost 23!)...she still wants to get married and would love a large family.

Don't feel guilty,don't try to have a perfectly clean home and don't feel guilty about staying at home! In the old days I'm pretty sure most mothers with a newborn were "allowed" to "veg" for a good three months or more!


Jill in Washington proud wife to Doug and mom of eight ages 22 to 2 and praying about adopting from Ethiopia!

Anonymous said...

p.s. I just have to say...that is one CUTE baby. He looks so healthy! He is simply darling! And I love the name! Enjoy him...they really do grow up awfully fast!

Jill (again)

Aubs said...

Such a wonderful reminder for me, Jess! I too find myself in survival mode quite often as the spouse of a military man who is deployed ALOT!! You will be in my prayers as you continue your adjustment as a family! And I love the picture...what a lil cutie Silas is and you look great as well!! =)

angel said...

This is exactly where I am too! Glad to know I am not the only new mom struggling to get back into things!

Christine said...

It certainly is a daily challenge, Jess! Your statements to your children sound a lot like mine. I am praying for you during this post partum time for you. By the way, your little guy is just so precious! What a sweet little blessing.May God richly bless you as you continue serving Him.Blessings!

Cricket said...

I completely agree with you. It is very hard to keep the focus when you haven't had much sleep. I have been reading your blog for a while as a mutual friend of ours, Megan P., recommended it to me. I love reading your thoughts and challenging myself. I'll keep you in my prayers as you transition into this new larger family!

Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

Thank you, thank you for this post. I so needed to hear it today. I've been having some of the same things come out of my mouth. Though we haven't just had a baby, we have moved to the other side of the world. It's been a time of adjustment and chaos and stress. Truthfully my kids haven't had much of my attention (other than to try to encourage them about the move). Parenting them has kind of taken a backseat in the last month or so.

The baby is gorgeous, btw!

Mrs said...

Oh, what a sweet, sweet season. I'm thankful God has given you gentle reminders to soak it all in and lean on Him.

For your wiggler . . . I ALWAYS gave my wiggler something to do with her hands. Squeeze a ball, brush the dog, a knitting spool, silly putty. With something in her hands, she was able to hear every word I said!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jess....yes, what a time of adjustment. I remember when our third came along, & it seemed all I could do for a time was lie on the couch with the infant. A couple times, I would fall asleep with the new baby, my other two more or less climbing on me (one child actually sitting on my hip & looking at a book while the other built a little tower by my feet), toys strewn around us...not fun! But everyone needed me in a different way, & I just let it happen the way it happened, I guess. We're none the worse for it, but at the time, I wanted to do better, & my level of fatigue just wouldn't let me. It's stretch & grow for everyone, that's for sure!

thinking of you especially,

maria said...

Hang in there, and remember that God's grace is available to your -- and to your kids. He will cover the gaps when we reach our finite ends -- which I seem to do all too easily!

Janel said...

With my recent illness(es), I've had twice the fatigue I normally do. A little explaining makes it so much easier on everyone.

I gather the kids around, explain simply that this is going to be a hard day because my body isn't cooperating like it should. I tell them that I might be short and/or not so nice because I feel extra tired. But! I'm going to try really hard not to because I know I'm not feeling well. Besides, I don't like being mean. I ask them to forgive me in advance and be gracious to remember that I'm having an extra rough day.

Doing this makes things so much better when the kids know I'm not feeling well and it makes me grumpy and short. They respect my honesty. They give me space, squabble less and actually go out of their way to help more and find quiet activities. Likewise, if they let me know they aren't feeling well, I give them space.

You little ones are big enough to understand that Mommy just had a baby, is tired and needs to recover. Don't feel guilty at all about unplugging the computer and parking on the couch for the next 2 weeks.

BTW, there is nothing wrong with telling them to find a book or quiet activity that interests them. You're not telling them they MUST read xxx book. You're giving them space to be themselves. Just be sure you haven't turned into dragon lady.


:..Rebekah..: said...

I understand this struggle. I have four, and sometimes I am so focused on the job(supper, baths, laundry, etc.) that needs to be done that I neglect the person that I'm doing the job for! God is ever faithful though, and nudges me through his Word or by an encouraging word from a sweet sister in faith, such as yourself. :)

Simple Family Supper lady said...

D'rn it!! I like blanket statements!!! LOL!!! I have four children, so I can relate... sometimes I wonder how I can ever meet their individual needs... but God will through me if I am a willing vessel.
Press on, one day at a time!!
Thanks for the post.

Anna said...

Congratulations on your new addition.
I have found that in any transition time things get busy, and I have to refocus and readjust.
For me, some of that is good, b/c I tend to be too involved (and maybe controlling) and I need to step back a little at times.
I hope that makes sense.

Pepperpot said...

This reminds me of a Bill Cosby quote... "The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet." I have found that to be a helpful way to not take myself too seriously during those crazy new baby days! God bless! :)

Jennie Chancey said...

Ahhhh.... I was just sighing over the picture of the beautiful new baby boy and having "delivery envy" (baby number eight is due Monday, but I always go late, so I'm in the "it's about time" stage of this pregnancy!). Then I read your post and found myself wearing a chagrined smile. We forget how easy it is to carry a "portable" baby around in the womb (no matter how late we go) and how much adjusting we always have to do post-birth, don't we? Doesn't matter if you have three children or eight--it's the same every time. We have to remember not to lump the rest of the little folks into the "other" category when so much of our time is taken up with new baby nuzzling and nursing and late nights. Thank you for the hearty reminder! May the Lord help us to keep our eyes and ears open to the needs of all the little individuals under our roof even as we welcome new life! Blessings, Jennie

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reminder. I only have one child, but after losing our son last year (stillbirth), I've "tuned out". You would think because of the loss I would cherish and pay attention more. Thanks for the kick in the pants.