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I have entered a new stage of parenting, a stage I thought I was well-prepared for, but quickly realized I was severely out of my league—tweens. Tweens are super fun on their great days and super hard on their tough days; there are no in-betweens. As I filled up my online shopping carts with any book I could find that might arm me with helpful information, two things happened. I became supremely respectful of parents that survived raising well-adjusted kids into adulthood, and the overblown pride I previously felt for my parenting wisdom was brought down to an honest size—similar to that of the chocolate chips I keep stress-eating. Grown-up life has taught me something, though.

I have learned that when I am at my most humble situation, I am also at the place where I learn the best.

My parenting eyes are wide open right now. I am soaking up any bit of knowledge and wisdom I can that might help me understand the taller creatures I have living upstairs. I am devouring books like I did when I was pregnant with my first, but these books are different.

My expectations of raising kids have changed. Perhaps because of my naivety of young parenthood, I hoped my kids would grow up to be dynamic, famous world changers that I could brag about (Facebook doesn’t help with this.) or super smart and savvy individuals that I could launch into some yet-to-be-determined path and not worry about them because of their street-smarts.

The tools in my arsenal of parenting have changed a bit.

Chore charts, time-outs, structured nap-time/bed-time schedules, and other toddler tricks won’t cut it anymore. I now live in the land of heart-to-heart talks, long drives to big-kid events, shower reminders, and discussions about topics I am not always ready to have.

My goals in parenting have changed.

These kids have sent me, my parenting skills, and my parenting goals through a refining fire over their last development stage. And, as with any refinement, the pure elements have risen to the top and the gunk has sunk. The purity that remains is a simple, more realistic, and more attainable goal. My parenting goals are currently this: to raise whole, caring individuals that are confident in their own ability to care for themselves and others. This would apply to all sorts of areas of life such as knowing when to take yourself to the doctor and how to make the appointment, when and how to take breaks to maintain health, and how to watch out for others and know how or when to help. I hope that the faith that we’ve instilled in them will be as valuable to them as it is to us as their parents and that there will be other positive influencers in their lives to help them accomplish these hopes. To put it simply, I want my kids to be nice—nice to themselves and nice to others.

As your kids have changed and grown, has your parenting changed and grown to meet their needs? What are your parenting goals now that you’re done with diapers?

 

Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.