Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Perfect Parent

What does that mean? This thought has been bugging me the past few days. It keeps popping into my head at random times so I feel like if I don't dump this thought out, it won't leave me alone. Ever get those? It's annoying.

Anyways... I guess I've been thinking about it because I'm beginning to see that Christian is no longer a little toddler but he's turning into a little KID now. It's all happening oh so fast. Not so much like he's physically getting big, (of course, that too) but more like I'm getting glimpses into his brilliant little mind and I'm realizing he's no longer my baby but his own person with his own deep thoughts. And I do mean deep. The boy's got some deep layers already. He reminds me so much of me when I was young. For me though, since my parents didn't speak much English and I couldn't speak much Korean, sadly, our conversations were pretty limited and it was very frustrating for me. So I try to have conversations with Christian as much as I can. He's trying to wrap his 3 1/2 year-old mind around all sorts of things and to be honest, I don't know how to answer this stuff. "Where does God live? He can see us? Who made this sink? Did God make this sink for us?" And the past nearly 2 weeks, he's been very stressed about not wanting to grow up.

Every night, he keeps saying to me that he doesn't want to grow bigger. He says stuff like, he doesn't want to turn 4. He wants to stay 3 and for Lauren to stay 1 forever because he doesn't want to grow up. It's like he's sensing that he's not that oblivious little toddler anymore because he's experiencing emotions and actually pondering lots of thoughts which he hadn't before. He says that if he grows up, he'll be too big and that I won't be able to carry him and that his feet will drag on the floor. He's even cried because the thought was too much for him to handle. He said that he didn't want to grow bigger than daddy. Although, I think he's getting the concept of growing up, physically getting bigger and growing older all confused - something about getting older to him, is stressing the poor kid out. It made me cry too.

And as I converse with this little mini adult, I feel a fear growing inside of me about the future. The future of his adolescence when there will be temptations of social peer pressures such as ditching school, girls, drugs - that whole experimental/rebellious stage. And I feel like today's youth is worse than ever before. So I'm constantly thinking how I can be a better parent - what do I need to do to make sure he stays a good kid who knows better, has his priorities straight and becomes the type of kid who'll want to stay away from stuff like that. How do I become the Perfect Parent?

But what does that even mean? Does the perfect parent even exist? I was thinking... Who, out of all the parents I know, would I consider to be the closest thing to "perfect"? No one, really. We all have flaws. What defines a perfect parent? Or an ideal parent? What are the qualities that define that role? If your kid turns out healthy, happy, and just generally good - does that reflect good parenting skills? And if your kid turns out to be screwed up, does that reflect bad on the parent? Does perfect parent = perfect kid?

Then I thought - Duh! God! God is "perfect", right? And, God is our Father. Therefore, God is the perfect parent, no? So then, how come we're not the perfect kids if God is the perfect parent? (As I'm thinking all of this, I'm simultaneously thinking, why the hell am I thinking about this shit? But this is what my brain does. It doesn't like to stay stagnant so it creates drama for itself and provokes annoying thoughts and drives me crazy. I'm also thinking that I need to pay the bills, reschedule some appointments, fold the laundry, and that I'm tired and I wish I could turn my brain off. *sigh*) Now where was I? Oh yeah... God. The Perfect Parent. So if God is perfect then how come we're all so screwed up?


He gave us this darned thing called Free Will.

This damned Free Will scares the shit out of me.

Because of it, no matter what I do as a parent, there are no guarantees. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we all have the freedom to choose what we want to do, I guess. But sometimes, I guess lots of times, I think it would've been a lot simpler if Adam didn't eat the forbidden fruit and we all lived naked, picking berries and frolicking around in the Garden of Eden and just doing as God says. At least that's what I picture in my crazy head.

Anyways... back to the subject.

I know people who were raised by wonderful parents who marinated their kids with love and support but the kids ended up, well, pretty screwed up. Which then got me to think...what's the ideal outcome for your child? What do I want for Christian and Lauren?

I want them to be happy, healthy, responsible, loving, giving, compassionate, generous, honest, respectful, smart, humble, influential individuals knowing that God exists and making Him the center of their lives (even though my future entries will sound like I am challenging God, I do believe in Him and I want my children to believe in Him. Because, I do believe that without Him, there is no purpose in life. Eh... it's complicated.) So how do I get a favorable outcome like this when I've got Free Will working against me?

Prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

And faith?

I don't know.

I just gotta make sure that Ben and I, as parents, teach them the proper lessons in life to equip them with the right tools to make their own decisions when they're faced with challenges and pray for the best. But without them making their own mistakes and learning from them, they won't know right from wrong and they won't grow into the good individuals that I want them to be. No?

It was because of Free Will that made me choose to accept Christ in Jr. High when my good friend took me to a retreat one summer. Then, it was Free Will that made me choose to become a rebellious teenager thereafter and an ever crazier party girl in my early twenties. I was every parents' worst nightmare. I started smoking in my early teens, I experimented with drugs, I ditched school ALL the time but I was a smart kid. I was in all those honors classes and even competed in Academic Decathalon. I was a rebellious nerd. But I blame my rebellion because of my fucked up childhood (that's another post - which could take many many posts to explain. when i'm ready and in the mood.) I would probably die of a heart attack if my kids end up doing half the things I did growing up (Oh God, please don't let them be that bad, please!). I was one screwed up kid. But it was the grace of God that I think I ended up okay (On the outside. Mentally, I think I'm a mess). I got married to a freaking awesome man and we have 2 freaking beautiful children. But if it wasn't for my experiences, I wouldn't be where I am today. So I feel like it's almost necessary to go through the bad to get to the good. Ugh.

There seems to be a fine balancing act with all of this. Free will and parenting. Ultimately, I guess I just need to trust God and know that He has a plan for us. And just pray that I do the best job I can to be the best parent I can in this screwed up world we live in.

But now, it's got me thinking this - If God has a plan for all of us, doesn't that mean that our lives are already predestined?

And how does predestination and free will come into play with eachother?


Another friggin thought that will probably eat away at my brain. *sigh*


jean said...

wow sue, you're such an awesome writer! and YOU are a WONDERFUL parent!! so much that i wish i could be more like you when it comes to being strict and feeding my kids healthy and the list goes on and on....
tyler wants a playdate with your little man. mon or tuesday. ty's in school wed-friday now. =) love love super mama!

jean said...

oh yea, deep entry btw =) now i'm all thinking about life and kids and our role as parents....thanks sue. hehehe, j/k =D

lucy said...

Wait, I'm not the only crazy person that has conversations in my own head that drives me crazy because it goes off into tangents and moves from one thought to the next? Ever think that those "weirdos" on the street that talk to themsevles are actually just like us but are talking out loud instead of using their inside voice? hahaha.
Also, how interesting that I have the same conversation with Josie about not wanting to grow up? She gets really upset too.
You know, I have the same fears and hopes as you. I bet most parents do. I used to constantly worry about Josie being exposed to drugs, sex, ditching, etc etc. I've come to realize that all you can do is instill good morals, support and guidance and allow them to make the right choice or even the wrong choice. I think it's in their mistakes and experiences that they learn and grow. I also had my share of mistakes and being rebellious, but i attribute to where I am today after realizing that there is nothing to gain from being rebellious. For me, I feel like I had to go through it on my own rather being taught. So we can worry all we want, but in the end, we have to hope that we did all we can for them when growing up, so they choose the right path in the future.
One last note (before I write an entry in your comment section)... I don't think there is a true definition of being a "good parent." To me a good parent is parents that are there for their child, considers the well being of their child and disciplines when needed (even if it's hard).
You are doing fantastic Sue! Take a breather because you and Ben are terrific parents. :P

sue said...

aww...thanks jean. you're one of the most patient ppl i know. wish i had that quality. :) how does monday sound? Can you guys come over? =D

Lucy - DID write an entry! :P I know i have to allow our kids to take their own path and learn from their own experiences and mistakes but that's the part that I'm afraid of how I'll handle. Looking back at my own life now, it all makes sense (i guess). It was kind of a means to an end but when your kid is going through the rebellious stage, I don't think I'll be able to stay level headed and think, "ok, this is just a stage or a learning experience." When they hit their teens, i'll probably embed some sort of gps tracker (isn't that the mark of the beast? aigooo) and track them down if i catch them doing something bad and lock them up in our crazy high tech smart home (my dream!) and home school them! ha! j/k. :)

Kathy said...

lock them in the closet and throw away the key is my solution. really though ... i don't think our kids are gonna be as crazy as we were and trust me, i was the crazy too. i was a national merit scholar but also was doing baaaad stuff so we were kinda the same. i caused my parents so much heartache and grief but anyone could see it coming from a mile away. they were psychotically strict and overbearing that i had to rebel and rebel i did from 14-28. but i'm not gonna be that way w/my kids ... sure there are going to be very defined boundaries but by no means do i expect/want them to be doctors or lawyers. i want my kids to be well rounded good people.

and there ain't no such thing as a perfect parents bc that'd mean you were a perfect person and we all know that person doesn't exist. we just do our best, realize our faults and try to fix them. there's always tons of guilty associated w/motherhood because we feel like we're not doing enough, our best.

and every single one of my gfriends is an AMAZING parent and has qualities i wish i did - whether it's patience, nurturing, patience, consistency, patience, tenderness, patience.

in the end, all we can wish for are kids that live fulfilling happy lives, that treat one another well and have good hearts. lets hope we don't f**k them up too much.

and sue - like & lucy said - you are SUCH an awesome mommy for reals. believe it!

sue said...

there's so many phases of mommyhood. the earlier years seem easy - it's just taking care of them - making sure they're fed, clean and getting good sleep. it's as they get older when parenting gets challenging. we'll see how well my parenting skills are

i'm glad we're all going through it together. we went from partying together, to marrying together to having babies together. i'm glad to have my lifelong friends to go through this journey together. i love you guys! :)