Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I hate to make them. Even the small ones. And yet there doesn't seem to be any way to truly avoid having to do so.

Sometimes I wish I could just glibly go with the moment. Obviously, there are plenty of people who do so. Because I refuse to believe that there could be so many people in this world who purposely make the bad choices that they do. The only way to understand (though not excuse) these choices is to come to the conclusion that they simply give it no thought.

So why do I labor in anguish at times (excuse me if I slightly dramatize) over every little pro and con of a choice? Especially when it comes to my children.

I've made it a sort of pet project to study parents of older (teenage and up) children. Raising kids is no small task. If I thought my hands were full changing diapers, or teaching the ABC's, that just may be the easy part. Those little adorable (and yes, trying at times) human beings get even more challenging. I don't speak this as the voice of experience, more the voice of observation.

So who do you turn to when you see the teen years approaching on the horizon? Interesting enough (at least to me) is how many people turn to their peers... who are in exactly the same spot as they are. Which means they have no proven record, they're just using the same trial and error as yourself. So you don't really know if their advice is good until they (or you) succeed or fail down the road.

Obviously, I'm not talking about potty-training tips here. I get advice on those sort of practical things myself. But when it comes to child-raising advice, I don't trust anyone who doesn't have a child at least 10 years ahead of mine, no matter how well-mannered their Johnny or Susie may be.

But all the child-rearing advice in the world, even that which comes from those who are older, and sometimes wiser, won't make your decisions for you. The knowledge gleaned from these must be weighed in the balance. Which finds me right back where I started from: having to make those earth-shattering decisions.

And maybe having to come to the realization that one decision, in and of itself, won't sink the ship. But then it's been my observation that one bad decision often leads to another. Not being a sailor myself, I'm not sure how easy it is to get a ship back on course. But without a doubt it's much simpler to choose the right path to start with.

And yes, I do know that there is no guaranteed way to raise a child to turn out perfectly (or at least what we consider to be so). And the older my kids get, the more I realize just how much "free will" comes into play.

I hasten to say that none of my children have suddenly gone "rogue." Though they do insist on all three being so completely different from each other that sometimes I question whether they truly could have come from the same parents... not that there's any doubt in my mind on that point.

No, I'm simply laboring over decisions that may seem small now, but could in the long-run have far-reaching results. And knowing that I can regret a choice, but doing so won't let me go back and change it after it's all said and done.

Such is life I guess. We can try to do our very best, but then some things are out of our hands. And thankfully in God's. Perhaps more of our time spent reading and searching for the perfect parenting skills would be better served in prayer, asking God to work in our children's hearts in ways that we ourselves never could.

And so ends another rambling post~


Mrs. C said...


Sometimes it can be a lot of fun, huh? There are a good plenty of people who think they know it all, too. :]

Jeanette said...

I completely feel the same way, even if my kids are much younger than yours. Some nights I have minor breakdowns, wondering if I handled a situation correctly or if I just scarred my child for life.
Having worked with preteens and teens while teaching junior high in Massachusetts, I know what a bewildering and scary time it is - both for the child and the parent. I too have marked families with teens and young adults that are "making it" and doing a great job. And then of course there's always my parents - who did everything perfectly, naturally. sigh...

Nikki said...

I have decided not to worry too much about decisions. I mean, I do the best I can with what I have, but there's no use in letting worry paralyze you. Not that you are doing that.

I heard an interesting statistic once about children who go off the deep end; they run away, use drugs, etc.. Children whose parents are very involved in their lives are significantly at lower risk for these behaviors. However, as the speaker said, that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen to the "well-raised" kids; it just happens less often. I actually found find that comforting in a weird sort of way, knowing that being involved is very important, but it's not the only thing that will cause my children to turn out well. Does that make sense?