Just living my life, and making it work!

Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

Why Our Children Don’t Have College Funds

We have five children, and sometimes people assume that means we have a larger than average income. While we have been blessed financially, I think it is more accurate to say that we have different priorities than many Americans. One of those is we have let go of the financial burden of paying for our children’s college. This is a purposeful decision we made even when we only had one child, and could easily afford a college fund. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying people with college funds are bad parents. Every family and situation is different. The following is simply why our family said “no” to college funds.

We don’t have a dream for our children, because we know God already has a plan. Many parents not only assume, but insist, college is an outcome for their children. We are not in the business of running our kid’s adult lives. God has already equipped our children with the traits they need to become what He designed them to be. It is our job as parents to cultivate that relationship, and shepherd those traits, so our children can grow into the people they were created to become. Both of us have masters degrees so we aren’t anti education. We realize college may or may not be important to any one of our kid’s adult lives, but we just don’t assume that it is. We also know that if it is, the provision will be there without our saving up for it.

We measure success differently. Our children’s value is not tied to personal wealth or choosing a prestigious career. Instead, their value is tied to being children of God. Our hope is that they grow into adults who love God, and pour His love into the people around them. Of course we want them to be independent and productive members of society, but that will likely end up looking very different for each of our children. For example, one of our children wants to be a math teacher, and our first grader wants to be a garbage truck man. All work is valuable, and making lots of money or being well educated isn’t the only way for people to prosper. Our sole criteria on the path they choose is that it is moral, legal, and they can support themselves doing it.

There is value in the struggle. Parents often want to pay for their kid’s college, because they remember what it is like to try and pay for their own college. They remember having to pull all nighters studding because they were working during the day. They remember not running the air conditioning, and scraping together a few dollars to buy milk, and box of cereal, and some ramen noodles. They love their kids, and don’t want to see them struggle the way they did. However, when things like college are simply handed to a mostly grown child it takes something away from them. They loose experiences that grow important traits like self reliance, self efficacy, problem solving and financial management. This is not to say we are just going to throw them out when they graduate high school. Of course we will help them however we can, and we will help them plan for their future. That help will not come in the form of simply writing a check.

A friend recently told me of a story she read in a devotional. A man was watching a butterfly come out of its cocoon. The hole was very small, and the butterfly was struggling to get itself through. Out of compassion for the butterfly the man made the hole slightly larger so that it would be easier for it to come out. Sure enough the butterfly quickly appeared, but unfortunately its wings were never strong enough for it to fly, and it died. What the man didn’t know was the struggle to get through the opening is what makes the butterfly’s wings strong enough to fly. Just like the butterfly our children need a fair amount of struggle to grow strong enough to fly.

We have more important things to do with our money.  God put adoption on our hearts, and by aligning our values and goals  with Him instead of the basic American culture we have been able to say “yes”. Not only do our adopted children have a family, and hope for a better future, but the lessons in unconditional love, grace, redemption, and the importance of family have given our biological children (and us) more than a college education ever could. I realize not everyone has a heart for adoption. However, God has placed a need on every Christian’s heart, and it hurts me when people miss out on those blessings because they think they cannot afford to meet that need. If this is speaking to your heart right now prayerfully consider where your money is going.  Maybe its not a college fund, but instead it is a bigger house, or a newer car, or a big remodeling job. Maybe you need these things, and maybe you don’t. I’m not trying to judge anyone’s life. I’m simply asking that you pray about it, and ACT on the message you receive.

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I Am Raising Future Adults, Not Just Children

So today I saw one of those cute little cards you frequently see on Facebook. It read something like…”All I want in life is for my child to be happy. Like if you will always love your child.” At first look it seemed sweet, and i almost pushed “Like”. Then it dawned on me that nothing could be further from the truth. Sure I like to have fun with my kids, and I buy them birthday gifts that I know will make them happy. However, my kids’ happiness is not one of my top parental priorities.

Happiness is transitory and situational. I am much more concerned with my children developing the joy and inner peace that comes with a personal relationship with their Lord, and standing on their own two feet. The way I see it God has I entrusted me with three human beings. My priority as a parent is to teach them about Jesus, and to shape them into responsible productive adults. After all I am raising future adults, not just children. The goal of making kids happy may seem like the loving thing to do. However, it shapes selfish, immature, and overindulgent adults. It fails to teach important lessons such as the value of had work, practice, self improvement, delayed gratification, and fiscal responsibility. All of which bring a sense of accomplishment and life satisfaction that cannot be gained through being indulged constantly in the name of happiness..

As unfortunate as it is, most learning and character building opportunities arise from disappointment and failure. We have to allow our children to experience negative emotions. They cannot win all the time. They need to be told when they didn’t do their best. Don’t get me wrong. These moments should be seen as opportunities to instruct and learn, not to berate or punish. But, so many parents suffer from the “My Precious Darling Syndrome”. These parents believe their children are above the rules, and would never make a mistake. If their child does make a bad decision they either blame the other child or caregiver, or offer an excuse instead of a heartfelt apology. Furthermore they will fight their child experiencing any type of correction or loss of privileges. They are so concerned with self esteem that they over praise their child, and give them an over inflated idea of their capabilities. These are the kids that as adults do not know how to budget their money, expect to live the middle class lifestyle of their parents not realizing the hard work it took to get there. These are also the kids who are unemployed because they expect to have a management job because they have a “degree”, and are not willing to work their way up the way their parents did.

I am not the worlds greatest parent, and my kids have too many toys. I’ll be the first to say that it feels good to make my kids happy, and it is difficult to see them sad or disappointed. But, the next time I am tempted to make an excuse for my kid or blame the situation on the teacher/other kid I’m going to ask myself “is this what I am going to say to his or her boss someday?”. If the answer is no I should probably reevaluate my response.

****Disclaimer****
I wrote this with no specific person or family in mind. It is nothing more than a commentary on what I perceive to be a shift in the parenting style here in America, and the adverse consequences it may have on our society as this generation becomes adults. If you don’t agree feel free to ignore. I won’t have my feelings hurt.

For Sale:Little Boy $20 OBO

Before anyone calls CPS or Oprah let me be clear that I do not want to sell my son. It is a joke meant to imply that I have had a tough day with him today. I think it is sad that I have to make such a disclaimer, but I do not feel like being blasted for trying to sell my son on the Internet.

I have a very rambunctious, and inquisitive 3 year old son. People who talk about the terrible twos have never lived with a three year old. Yes, they can communicate better as they’ve acquired more language, and their imagination blooms adding depth to their play. BUT….they learn that they are their own person, and you cannot truly make them do anything. Also that budding imagination, and stronger climbing muscles allows them to get into trouble that is far worse than a two year old tantrum.

We are in a war to see who will be the boss at my house, and today my son won the battle. He cannot leave anything alone! He has a very mechanical mind, and wants to figure out how things work. Add to that a strong will, and a good helping of mischievousness, and you can start to see where this is going. He often waits to start up until I’m nursing, because he knows I’ll be up stairs for a while.

I’ll spare you the details, but in short today he nearly broke my Origami stroller, tried to radiate his baby sister at his dental appointment, threw every toy he has on his bedroom floor, and repeatedly started fights with his big sister!!!! I hope that he gets it together by 4, or I may end up in a mental hospital. He may have won today’s battle, but I am sure to win the war.

PS. Just before bed he came to me all remorseful like saying ” mommy, I’m sorry for messing with the stroller, and pushing the button at the dentist.” it was such a touching moment until he followed up with ” now, do I still have to go to bed early? I said I was sorry.” Really?!?!?!