Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How We Choose to Love Our Kids

When I first started out on this new journey of helping to raise 4 kids, I had nothing to go off of besides some common sense and the foundation and knowledge of how my parents chose to raise me (and a lot of episodes of Dr. Phil). I was pretty confident – I mean, I turned out okay, so I just went with what I knew.

Growing up, my parents loved me and parented me by always pushing me, supporting me and instilling the morals, values and fundamentals that I would need to become a successful adult. I was indulged in a lot of ways, but I was also raised in a home with structure and organization and expectations. When I left home for college, I didn't even come close to knowing 'it all' but I sure had been given a good start.

So, of course this is how I started 'loving' our kids. Mind you, my step-kids are all older (11, 13, 15, 17) and had never in their life been 'loved' this way. They had a very rough past with their mother and David fell into the trap that a lot of parents do – the guilt trap. So, he believed that by not setting a lot of rules and not getting on to them about grades and giving in to their every want, - well, he believed that would be the best way to make them happy.

David and my biggest fight to this day was in the very beginning of blending our two lives. One evening he said, “but my job is to make them happy.” To which I replied, “your job as a parent is not to make them happy. It's to prepare them for adulthood, set an example and give them the skills they need to grow up. If you're kids aren't mad at you, you're doing something wrong.” Over a year later I still stand by this statement (all I'll tell you why in a moment) and David has slowly come to see things my way.

As you can imagine, in the beginning we had a lot of problems. The kids were mad, unhappy and just pissed off all the time. They had never had chores. They never had to worry about grades. Bedtimes, what were bedtimes? Simply picking up after themselves was a foreign concept. In no way am I saying they were or are bad kids. I'm blessed with some of the best kids around. They had just come from years and years of a completely different household. David and I fought – a lot – during those months. He wanted to give in. It killed him to see his kiddos unhappy. And I would not give up any ground. I knew that we would see results, it would just take time.

And guess what? It took some time, but we now have 4 productive, organized and structured kids. Mind you, they are still kids and we still have daily battles, but the overall difference in them is beyond amazing. They are all excelling in school and being more respectful. We see appreciation from them now when we do say 'yes' to something they want and don't give in all the time. But my proudest moment, and the moment I knew we had done the right thing by sticking to our guns, was when our 17 y/o came to have a talk with me. For months she had been the biggest problem in the house with her defiant attitude, disrespect and overall hate for us.

She said: “Amanda, I know now why you did what you did. I understand why organization and structure is important for us. And I wouldn't ever want to go back to it being the other way. I can see the difference now when I go into someone else's home and it's chaos – and I don't like that feeling. I like knowing what to expect.”

And my Momma heart melted in that moment. That told me that all the months of fights and attitudes and yelling were worth it. Because they saw that we were doing all of this because we loved them. That's how we love our kids. And I feel at ease knowing that when they do take their first steps into the real world, they will be better prepared. And I pray that when they have families of their own one day, they can use our home as an example of how to love their own kids.


  1. oh i love love love this post! what a great moment for you!

  2. Raising teenagers is hard. I have a 17 year old and two little ones {ages 4 and 6}. I have said many times that my teenager keeps me up at night more than my younger kids ~ for different reasons. They are a full time job in themselves! Huge kudos to you for applying yourself ~ with such grace ~ to the lives of your step-kids......loving them like your own. These "a-ha" moments are few and far in between, so treasure them when they happen! :)