Hello. My name is Petra Alvarez and today I am going to talk a little about being a parent. I am not really planning on giving parenting tips at this time-I am just going to talk to you about being a parent.
I am the mother of four children. I raised about seven and gave birth to three of them. I became a mother at 15 and am so grateful I had my mother to help me and guide me! Newborns are so precious and soooooooo scary at the same time, but with my mother’s help, I learned fast.
When I hear mothers of newborns today, I think to myself, “THINGS HAVE CHANGED”. But what has NOT changed is that children grow, are born with their own personalities, and are NOT carbon copies of their parents.
This becomes very apparent as soon as they start sleeping, eating, crying, pooping, and sleeping again. The more independent they become, the more that shows. They have different ideas of what they like to eat, wear, watch, and from there it goes on and on.
Then they start school and become more and more independent and really “know it all”.
Soon adolescence hits – Oh boy…
Both girls and boys go through great changes during this time. Boys are trying to deal with testosterone kicking and girls are trying to deal with all the hormone changes. On top of that, their bodies are changing…Fun.
Next are the teenage years. Those are the years you really start asking yourself, “what happened to my cute, sweet baby?”
Well, your baby is becoming an adult. This is what you have been preparing them for all of these years.
It is not easy.
THIS IS WHAT I’D REALLY LIKE TO SPEND A FEW MINUTES ON – How to be the parent of an adult.
No matter how old your child gets, YOU ARE THEIR PARENT. Yet there are significant changes that come with parenting an adult compared to parenting a child.
Our job is to raise our children to be independent, responsible adults who contribute to society and know who they are in Christ.
This is not an easy job.
It is hard for young adults to separate acting like a child from being an adult. We see it all the time, especially when a mother or father talks to their adult child, especially about things they really don’t want to address. Parents revert to parenting a child, and their son or daughter reverts to teenage responses.
I have found that I can’t protect my children from physical or emotional pain, instead I had to teach them how to cope with disappointment, fear, pain and loss. Life is hard.
I had to learn to respect who my child is. None of them are exactly like me. Do they have certain traits and outlooks on life like mine? Yes, they do. But do they always think, react, and respond the way I would? NO, they do not. They don’t because they are different from me, and yet they are still like me. They were raised by different people, who had different experiences than my parents. My children see the world differently than I do, because they were raised in a different time, and in mine and Lupe’s case, a different country.
However, that does not mean that we did not have to learn to respect who our children are.
They are who God created them to be. Aside from teaching them right from wrong, and what their responsibilities are as adults, we also had to allow them and mentor them into who God has called them to be. Did we always do right? No, of course not. But we did the best we knew how to do. Did we make mistakes? You bet we did! But that’s okay. God knew who we were before he gave us these children to raise. Both Lupe and I are what the world calls “step-parents”, but neither Lupe nor I see ourselves that way. We are their parents.
We had to listen to God to find out how to treat each child, how to go about talking to them, explaining things and disciplining each child, because they are different people. Helping them figure out who they are took time of praying and asking the Lord.
How to treat them now that they are adults is a whole other issue. Each one of our children is different and how I communicate with one does not work for the other. Although one thing they all have in common is that at times they do respond like the teenagers they once were. I, too, catch myself wanting to use the “mama” voice. I try to be aware at all times that my children are now adults, not children under my roof or care, but equals to me. Yet not, because no matter what, I will always be their mother. That is what we all need to learn: support who they are, be their friend, and yet be the parent they will need until the day we go home. Then they will miss us. Those of you who have lost a parent, or both, know what I am talking about.
Ask the Lord how to parent each child. Let them fall down, let them fail. Celebrate when they do great things, and discipline when they do things they should not. This starts with young children, when they are teenagers it is usually not successful.
Listen to them.
The rule at our house was that we sit down to dinner as a family. We did not eat fast food on the run. We would all sit around the dinner table and talk. That is when you find out how they think. Oftentimes I would just listen as they talked to each other, Lupe, or their aunt and uncle. We did not take calls during dinner time. Period. We had a lot of fun and some heated discussions! That is where they learned who we are too. They learned how we think and that we value them as individuals.
Time is the thing you can never get back. Sitting at the table we built trust and gained understanding.
Now, as adults, my children of course dismiss at times what I have to say, but let me tell you, when there is trouble, fear, or pain of any kind, I am it. I am the “go to” person. Why? Because they trust me and know that, no matter what, I am there for them. I will not bail them out, but I will listen and help find solutions. I can’t fix things for them, but I am here to love them and stand with them, to this day!
I do what my mother always said,
“At times I stand beside you, at times behind you, and at times I will shield you-depending on the situation.”
So help your children become strong, independent adults by respecting them, letting them fail, and by helping them through emotional pain. Give them coping skills and watch the beauty unfold as they become independent people, who know that they stand for, love the Lord, and succeed in life. They will grow away from you, like they are supposed to, but in this process you gain a friend, who is loyal and amazing.