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Posts tagged ‘boundaries in the home’

8 Ways to Be a Super Mom (Not Supermom)

SOURCE:   Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk/Family Life

There is no such thing as a superhero mother. Here’s how to stop trying to do it all and start learning to be you.

Supermom has super powers.

She is able not only to keep her home immaculate; she bakes and cooks from scratch all of the meals she sets before her family on the handcrafted table she whipped up over the weekend after seeing a DIY project on her Pinterest board.

Supermom is also a fantastic manager. She runs a tight ship. The home’s schedule runs like clockwork, and she makes certain her children are not tardy to anything. This woman could not only run a small country, she could probably do it in her sleep.

She is also a super wife. Although sometimes Supermom is super tired, she must put her fatigue on the back burner in order to be emotionally and physically available for her hubby.

Now I am certainly not trying to beat anyone up for this little phenomenon. We women are strong. Capable. Clever. Competent. Resourceful. But sometimes these strengths can transform into weakness because we don’t take into account one little thing that we women also have: Limitations.

If we don’t realize our limitations, we can soon find ourselves physically incapable of carrying out all that we have said yes to.  And we can find ourselves emotionally distraught.

There is no such thing as a superhero mother. No Supermom. But there are ways to still be a super mom—the best mom you can be for your particular children. Here are eight ways to stop trying to do it all and start learning to be you.

1.  Relax.  Stop stressing as you look around at what other mothers are doing and how many things they seem to be accomplishing. You don’t have to keep frantically racing to replicate someone else’s life. Instead, learn to seek and embrace the unique life God has for you at this age and stage of motherhood. So take a deep breath. Pause. Stop stressing. Quit running. Just relax.

2. Reevaluate.  Get alone with a notebook and sketch out your typical week. What commitments do you have inside your home? At work? At church or other civic organizations? Now go back over them and ask yourself if there are any you are participating in that really aren’t the best fit for your life right now. If you identify such activities, come up with a plan of action for how you will release yourself from these commitments in order to free more time for your family or for yourself.

3. Relinquish.  Let go of your desire to be everywhere at once. Accept the fact that you have limitations. That you cannot clone yourself and be two places at one time. The sooner you let go of the notion that you can have it all, all at once, the better. So relinquish.

4. Resolve.  When asked to take on a new responsibility outside your home, learn to ask yourself a few questions: Is this really my call? You should only be doing it to please God and because you feel that it is His plan for you right now.

5. Rest. Learn to build in periods of rest in your week. God’s pattern at creation was for us to take one day each week to cease working and really rest. Sometimes we are just as busy on the Sabbath as we are any other day of the week. Consider making Sundays a set-apart day to cease from any type of work and just focus on worship and rest.

6. Renew.  Renewal of your mind happens when you are involved in studying God’s Word both alone and with a group. If you can’t find a group to study with at your local church, consider joining our online Bible studies at Proverbs 31 Ministries (proverbs31.org). There thousands of women gather together online to study God’s Word together and renew our minds.

Also renew your body. Make sure that you are taking time to eat healthy. Build in time to exercise and enjoy fresh air when you can. And be intentional to renew relationships that encourage and strengthen you and build you up in your mothering. We must constantly be renewed so we do not burn out.

7. Relate. Make sure that you have a sounding board of other people in your life who will help you to work through the various options and set your schedule accordingly. A trusted friend or two, along with your husband if you have one, can help you see where you are stretched too thin when you can’t seem to notice it. A mom should not be an island.

8. Revisit. Be sure to revisit your commitments at least once—if not twice—per year. Hold them up to the Lord. Ask Him if there is anything you currently have on your plate that you should remove.

Also ask your family. Enlist the opinions of your husband and children, if they are old enough, when it comes to how you are spending your time. Perhaps you can’t see that an outside commitment is stressing you and messing with family life, but perhaps others who live in your home will notice it. Be open to their feedback. Take their thoughts into account. Make adjustments as needed.

When we learn to hone in on our calling and clear our too-full plate, we can begin to focus on making beautiful music in our life. This includes how we spend our time both inside the home and with outside commitments.

We each have a song to strum. We do not need to simply copy the score others around us are following. As we take our concerns prayerfully to the Lord—along with our schedules—He will certainly help us to say “so long” to the striving to be Supermom and help us to discover how to mother in our own distinctive way.

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Taken from Hoodwinked, copyright © 2015 by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk.

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Parenting: Who’s Running Things Around Here?

SOURCE:  Chris and Michelle Groff/Family Life Ministry

 The undeniable fact is that God expects parents to lead the family.

Aaron and Jennie wanted the best for their daughter Claire. They knew a good high school resume was important to get into a prestigious college. They also knew this didn’t just happen; it required years of preparatory work.

Over the years, they pushed Claire to excel in school and extracurricular activities—the ones she would need in order to be a “success.” Aaron and Jennie sacrificed a lot of time and energy to help Claire lay the groundwork for her future.

Early in her life, Claire sensed how important her achievements were to her parents. She wanted to make them proud of her. Whether it was her grades, sports, cheerleading, or clubs, she did it all and excelled at most. But sometimes she neglected more mundane responsibilities because she knew she could count on her parents to bend over backward to make sure she overachieved on the “important stuff.”

For example, when Claire rushed off to school and left her room in a mess, her mother would clean it up because she knew Claire would be exhausted when she came home. Claire’s back-to-back activities were often on different sides of town, so her parents took turns leaving work early to drive her from one to the other. When Claire remembered before a club meeting that she’d signed up to bring brownies, her mother would drop everything, go to the store, and make the brownies so Claire could work on her homework instead.

So who really was running Aaron and Jenny’s household? It was Claire.

Her needs came first, and her parents formed their schedule around hers. Her parents’ desire for success led them to sacrifice their time, money, and energy for the goals they had for Claire.

That may sound noble at first, but a closer look at the role of the central authority will show you how turning the hierarchy in the home upside down actually results in less growth and maturity, less preparedness for the world, and the possibility of a serious case of entitlement on the part of the children.

So what is a proper biblical authority structure for parents and children?

A hierarchy for healthy families

The undeniable fact is that God expects parents to lead the family. In fact, He spelled out a hierarchy designed for healthy family functioning: The husband is to be the loving, self-sacrificing head of the wife and kids. With this authority comes the most challenging task of all: to love his wife the way Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:23). Talk about a high calling!

Next, the wife is to be intimately involved in and consulted on family decisions. (See Ephesians 5:21 and 1 Peter 3:7.) Just because she is subject to the husband’s headship doesn’t mean she has no authority. In reality, lots of child-raising responsibilities are delegated to Mom, and Dad must support her in those tasks.

Finally, children are to obey their parents and learn from the loving, empathetic relationship that develops with them. (See Ephesians 6:1-4.) God designed the family in such a way that parents are to function as a team of true, loving, central authorities. This lays the foundation for everyone to fulfill his or her responsibilities to the family with love rather than selfishness or pride. (See Ephesians 5:21-6:4.)

Parents must learn the dynamics of exercising authority together. Intuitively, kids will learn to master the divide-and-conquer approach to dealing with authority. They will quickly recognize the weaknesses in the parental team and learn how to pit Mom against Dad when it works to their advantage.

For example, if Mom has a particular way of dealing with problems and Dad has another, the children will learn to choose which one is better for them as each individual situation crops up.  They can run to the rescuer to avoid consequences and to the dictator when they need a problem solved.

Kids are much more likely to learn how to solve problems and face consequences when their parents are united in their approach and fully supportive of each other.  These parents are able to provide clearer boundaries and a greater sense of security to their kids.

This may require parents to have team meetings from time to time in order to work together.  Ideally, you’ll discuss these difficult parenting issues in private so you can agree on boundaries and deliver effective consequences as a unit.  Even if you don’t have time to consult one another before each issue, you’ve got to be supportive of the other parent and keep your disagreements private and behind closed doors.

Fear of discipline

An even more subtle way children indirectly acquire the role of central authority is when parenting decisions are shaped by a fear of discipline or causing pain.  When parents fail to exercise their authority because they can’t stand to see their kids suffer consequences or because they are afraid their kids will be mad at them, the kids have become the authorities in the home.  These fearful parents resort to pleading, bargaining, or whining to get their kids to do what they want, but these approaches undermine their authority and rarely get the responses they are seeking.

Some parents are so afraid of being disliked by their kids that they fail to establish reasonable boundaries for the kids’ behavior.  These parents rationalize with comments like “Well, they were going to do it anyway, so I thought they might as well do it where I can keep an eye on them.”  What’s sad is that the effort to convince their children to like them usually results in disrespect and entitlement instead.

Still other parents are afraid to exercise their authority because they think that enforcing boundaries with consequences will damage their child’s self-esteem.  They believe every experience must be a positive one or their child will become discouraged and lose heart.  But one of the reasons God gives people trials is to build perseverance, maturity, and confidence.  Parents who believe in their children and support them in their struggles without rescuing will find that godly self-esteem is a natural by-product of the process of struggling through discipline.  (See James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-5.)

In contrast to the parents who are afraid to exercise authority, other parents exercise it too harshly.  These parents run the family like a drill sergeant, barking out orders and expecting everyone to jump at their commands.  They often insist on “first-time obedience,” expecting their kids to obey every command without challenge, excuse, or delay.

While we all want our kids to obey the first time we ask, the dictatorial approach sends a message that we aren’t willing to listen to our kids.  It emphasizes our power and authority over the value of having an authentic relationship with our kids.  This makes obedience difficult for rebellious kids and mechanical for compliant kids.  In neither case is the child learning from his or her experiences because the parents are forcing their will on the child rather than walking beside them and using the experiences to shape their character.

Far from having the positive influence they desire, an overbearing parenting style can cause kids to become preoccupied with the power disparity.  As a result, many kids can’t wait to get out from underneath this power structure as soon as possible.  In the meantime, they will look for passive/aggressive ways to exert their own power.

As parents, it is time to reevaluate what it truly means to exercise godly authority.  This is not being permissive or domineering but rather being balanced as God is balanced.  He will help us learn to exercise our authority well and how to maintain a careful balance between truth and love.  God expects and equips us to exercise our power empathetically and judiciously, with the overarching goal of encouraging each member of the family to grow into the person He designed them to be.  Pray for the wisdom to be that kind of parent.

Bringing it home

God created families with a particular hierarchy in mind, and parents are at the top of that hierarchy.  For dictators, this is a comfortable position.  For rescuers afraid of disciplining their kids, it can be more difficult.  But a balance of bonding and boundaries is essential to being a godly authority that earns respect by treating his or her kids with respect.  A balanced parent sets boundaries, gives age-appropriate choices within those boundaries, and delivers consequences when kids stray.

Kids will sometimes assume the position of authority in a family when the parents cede power to them, either by making the children’s activities the most important events of each day or by failing to deliver consequences when they are deserved.  Take some time to reflect and pray about your responsibilities and priorities for your family.  Is family time sacred, or does it get sacrificed in order to get to the next practice, game, meeting, or event?  Do you eat dinner together often, or is life too hectic for that?

Do you lovingly discipline your children when they make poor choices, or are you afraid of their reaction?  What about the reaction of other parents?  Do you worry that you might be seen as a bad parent if your kids are not doing all the things the other kids are doing?  Or do you insist on first-time obedience and fail to consider that it’s important for your kids to know the reasons for asking them to do something?  Is your attitude “my way or the highway” where your kids’ thoughts, opinions, or reactions are ignored just to get things done?

Take heart!  God knows your struggles and your tendencies.  Ask for help, and wait to hear.  Spend some time with your Bible and look for God’s wisdom.  He will speak through the words on those pages.  Be empathetic and earn the respect of your kids through clear boundaries, consistent consequences, and a willingness to walk with them through the struggles of life.

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Taken from Parenting by Design, copyright © 2014 by Chris and Michelle Groff, with Lee Long.

 

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