Admitting It Wasn't The Best Way

It was the last thing on my mind last night and the first thing on my mind this morning.... I wasn't happy with how I explained my thoughts in the post before this. I thought about hopping out of bed, turning on the computer and just going in and editing the post so that it said more of what I was trying to say. But by the time I had gone to bed, about 200 readers had read the post, editing it would be lost to the folks that read it already. So, I rolled over and went to sleep. But long before the sun rose in the eastern sky, my mind was turning, thinking of how to phrase what I wanted to say.... talking it out in my head. Defining in my own mind my thoughts.
Lots of folks shy away from admitting they have made mistakes in life...its embarrassing, it shows others you are not perfect, ( as if they didn't know !) and it feels a bit uncomfortable pride wise. Probably most folks have already heard about Mother Teresa's letter where she wrote about her doubts in God, she wondered if he existed and for a time she just went on with her work, going through the motions without really believing. Oh my, hearing that made me feel so good, not good that Mother Teresa had a difficult time in her life regarding her faith, but it made me feel good that I was not alone in having a time of serious doubt about God. I saw that I was not alone, not a strange and weird creature to doubt, but that even the most pious have had the same experience. I started to look at her outcome, move beyond where she was, where I have been struggling and look at the end results. So with that in mind I am going to share a bit about what I so tentatively touched on in my last post.
This is no big family secret or hidden fact, so no licking your lips now thinking you are going to hear some juicy gossip type thing. On the way to the airport Debbie and I had a long conversation about some of the similarities of our parents and how they were not all emotional with us. They were tough in some ways. I always knew I was loved and had hugs and kisses but they didn't give in to us. We certainly were not allowed to brood, or fuss. We learned to deal with stuff on our own. Not always the best policy to be sure but it was strength building. We knew the rules, we knew what was expected of us and the rest was up to us. My parents were not hard people, but good solid folks, the kind to be admired. I don't want anyone reading this to think they were not good parents, they were wonderful parents, full of fun and laughter but not the type to coddle you. Debbie and I talked about how this type of parenting is not really the "in thing" now. Parenting is all about, "poor Roger, his teacher scolded him today for fighting, so I am going to go have that teacher fired." or even for the playground set, little childhood squabbles are taken over by the parents, leaving the child with little skill in managing conflict.
I could use a1,000 examples sad to say of this type of thing. Parents give in to each and every whim of the child, filling the house with toys, gadgets and junk food to eat that takes over for filling the emotional needs, what ever the child wants they get. Now to my own confession of guilt in this area. We raised our own children on the farm. Hard work, no babying, lots of love, lots of fun but a bit on the tough side so they would be self reliant. They still had to do chores with a cold or stomach ache, they had to muck out the barns and head out into the cold winter morning to milk and then do chores around the house after school work was done. We gave many hugs, talked about the things that bothered them etc, read stories, took them fun places etc, a good mixture it seems as they are wonderful, well balanced adults, except in the case of one child. We spoiled Melanie...oh there were good reasons for that, at least we thought so. She knows all this, its not an expose that she will read and have her jaw drop open. Its no secret. When a child comes so close to death, when a child is chronically ill, you treat them differently. A couple reasons for understand that life is fragile, you feel bad that they have to endure so much and be different from the other children, so you give in, trying to make their life easier in areas that you can since there is this one big major area of pain you have no control over. Its not easy seeing a 7 year old have 3 shots a day and stick themselves for a blood sample 5 times each day. You hurt for them too and you want to treat them to something to make up for the pain. You want to shield them from anything else hard or painful. They end up not learning as many coping skills. All the parents I know of chronically ill children can say all the things I just said. And in no book on living with a sick child that I have read, do they talk about the results of doing this.

I see Melanie now with her own sick child struggling to cope on her own with all that is happening. We didn't prepare her for this kind of life situation. We still want to pick up the pieces for her but realize we can't. We failed Melanie by not letting her learn from life's lessons and I worry about all the millions of children now in the world, nothing wrong with them, just simply being spoiled, they have trouble coping, so they retreat. Stay in their parents basement until they are 35, no job, no money, no desire to change and dawn breaks on the parents, "we have created a monster". Fortunately, we didn't create a monster, just a young woman that seems fragile at times. We have seen how she can rally and step up to the plate, she is learning that more and more, and we are so proud of her, but we could have made it easier for her, we could have prepared her for the hard things in life better if we had not given in to her so many times. The best advice I can give a parent with a sick child is to treat them the same as your other children. We didn't do Melanie any favor by taking away the hard things in life. I read about the woman preparing to move to Montana with her children to meet with her husband and thought "oh my, what a strong woman". Our young country was settled by people who had not been coddled. I think about my great great great grandmother, came over from Ireland, married a seaman in Nova Scotia, had three children, her husband was lost at sea when the youngest was a baby and had to make it on her own. No family to run to, no government funds to live off of, nothing but her own skill and ingenuity to make a life in a difficult situation. Her daughter my great great grandmother, a fine woman. Raised up a strong and healthy family of her own with a good man beside her. I have slept in the very house they lived in and raised their family. People as strong as the timbers that formed that house, still lived in today by family. My sweet Melanie is having to learn so many hard life lessons now, that life is not fair not only for her but for her sweet tiny baby. She is having to deal with her own health and that of her babies. She is finding out just how hard it is to parent and to worry and to have no time to yourself. Melanie is resilient, she has an inner strength that is now rising up to the top. We just never let it come to the surface when she was a child. We took everything on for her that we could. Emery and I are so proud of this daughter and of course all our children but since this is about Melanie, I am mentioning our pride in her. She is becoming that strong woman, not by our teaching or training, not by small lessons that the other children had in life, but by life's hard knocks. It's not easy for her. She hasn't had the training to prepare for these things which makes it all the more amazing to see how she is learning as she goes how to be the mother of a very sick baby. Keep these young parents in your prayers. Yesterday was their first anniversary, a tough year it has been for them. What a blessing though that they have this sweet one to celebrate with them.

the morning in pictures
the sun shining on the table
eggs in the basket


Marianna said…
I'm reading both posts together and have to say that I couldn't agree with you more. The self-esteem movement was the absolute worst thing that could have happened to kids. I'm an older mom so I have a different outlook than so many of the moms of my chilren's peers. I often get sideways looks because I do the "looks fine to me, wash it off and go play" thing. My son has had some struggles in school and one of my biggest frustrations with this has been the fact that the teachers are not willing to "talk straight". Everything has to be couched in the language of "the child's fragile self-esteem." I could write a whole post on this myself!
Patty said…
I think we will feel the enormatiy of this new approach to building a childs character in the years to come.
Jenny said…
I don't think you can give any child true self esteem. You can do much to damage it but self esteem comes from having tried and failed, tried and succeeded, from being rejected by a friend and finding a friendship, from working hard for something and getting what you want, and from working hard for something and not getting it through no fault of your own.
It is realising that even when you fail you are still a good person if you have given it your best shot. By simply never allowing anything negative in a child's life or not allowing them the chance to try, perhaps fail and try again the child is being robbed of the chance to learn what they are capable of and how much they have to contribute to their world.

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