My older sister is such a great encourager to me. Just about every time we speak, I at least tear up. She makes me feel like I can do anything, like I am actually a special person.
This week I was going to share with her that I have been getting gentle (and otherwise) persuasion to parent my son differently than I am. To start the conversation I said something like, ‘I used to get a lot of grief for how I raised my kids when they were little, but I haven’t had to deal with that a lot lately.’ Before I could continue, she interrupted me. When I made the statement, I did so without any specific notions regarding the grief I’d gotten.
My sister, however, did have some specific notions. She reminded me of the trouble I got for Max’s speech. My poor boy used to not speak intelligibly for many, many years. Once he was able to pronounce words with reasonable accuracy, he continued for several more years without the ability to form the hard ‘g’ or ‘k’ sounds at all. He compensated so well by substituting those sounds with ‘d’s and ‘t’s, that many didn’t notice a problem. When one day he did make the g sound…well, it was a blog-worthy moment.
I’d forgotten how frustrated others had been with me for not enrolling Max into programs to help him overcome this ‘disability.’ Man, I used to cry for my boy a lot over this issue. Now, it just seems so far away and irrelevant. There is probably a lesson in there somewhere.
Diane brought this to mind, along with the negative responses I received to our decisions to things like breastfeeding, homeschooling and not circumcising. She encouraged me to follow where God leads me. She told me I am a good mom, and the mistakes I have made in parenting center around my reactions to criticisms rather than my actual decisions in upbringing or discipline. She said that my kids justify my choices. Wow, that felt good. I don’t take full credit, so I can say without too much pride that I have really great kids.
I guess we all need to hear that type of encouragement every now and then. It is easy to criticize. It is also easy to find a formula that works for you and assume that everyone should follow it to be successful. Because those are easy, I think that is what most of us hear—criticism and ‘advice.’ Just plain encouragement and ‘permission’ to keep on keeping on is rarer, and to be treasured. There is another good lesson.