Monday, June 9, 2014

Parenting the Heart

I have been thinking about my girl this weekend.

This sweet girl who we brought home from the hospital over 9 years ago.

9 years old is an interesting age.  I didn't quite get the "tween" thing with Jake he seemed to just go from kid to teenager over night.  Or at least his "tween" years only lasted a year or so.  Isabelle on the other hand is very much defining the stage for me.  She is so very much between.  And I think we are both, her and I, torn between wanting to keep her a little girl and wanting to rush into the teen years.  My girl who loves to shop, is concerned with getting her hair just right, loves pop music, and high heels yet still sleeps with a blanket, loves her dolls, disney movies and snuggling with mom in the mornings.  She isn't a teenager but she isn't totally a little girl anymore.  It is a fascinating age.

I am also noticing another difference between her and Jake.  Communication. While Jake seemed to carry on a running dialogue of every thought that came into his head at this age, Isabelle tends to be more introspective.  She doesn't always tell us what she is thinking but every once in a while she says something that tells us she is busy processing information.  And I have to laugh because when Jake was little I thought he was so much like me because his running commentary was a lot like what I was thinking.  However, like Isabelle, I know I kept it all to myself when I was little.  Figured it out myself.  I didn't appreciate how frustrating that must have been for my parents. My parents were great about leaving me to my thoughts.  Will I be able to do the same?  Can I communicate just the right amount of information so that as she processes she comes to the correct conclusion without nagging her?  I am going to be honest right now...I am not sure I can.  My parents had other children who did share their every thought to distract them from my silence.  Maybe this is why God sent me back to work at this stage, so I wouldn't hover over my girl as she processes and figures out life.

We figure so much out during the tween and teen years of our life.  And while my little girl never wants to talk about serious topics for more than 2 seconds, the half of her that is turning into a teenager is starting to listen.  She still doesn't ask questions but that fact that she is listening makes me think I am on the right track.

I have so many fears for my children, there are so many unknowns in life.  And our society is teaching a way of thinking and viewing our world that is so different than what God teaches, so far from Truth.  It is easy to want to toss them in a protective bubble and not let any of those crazy outside influences touch them.  And I am not here to criticize parents who attempt to do so.  However, eventually they have to live in the world and I am going to prepare my daughter to navigate it rather than run from it.  And that means she is exposed to things I would sort of rather she not know at this age.  And in this day and age of computers and social media, where she understands how they work better than we do, I just can't keep up with what she is exposed to.  It was just starting when Jake was a teenager, they came one at a time and we could add one at a time to our life and keep up, now it feels more like a flood gate has opened and I don't know where to look or what to hold back first.  Rather than spending parenting stopping the bad influences from coming her way, I am realizing I need to spend my parenting time teaching her discernment, to know what the bad things are and why she should turn from them when she sees them, to identify problems and deal with them.

Her heart.  This was my entire focus parenting round 1.  Jake's heart.  If his heart is sensitive to God and His will, then his choices will reflect that and I don't have to protect him from the world.  Isabelle may approach things different and I will have to speak to her heart differently but, ultimately it is still her heart I am parenting.  Directing her to God the Father for answers and love, so much more than I can ever give her.

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