January 1, 2009
Writer: Janalee Meeker
Parenting Without Selfishness
By Janalee Meeker
(LDS Life, January 2009)
Do you ever get to the end of the day and feel completely worn out? As a mother of four young children and a student at BYU-Idaho, it seems sometimes I have too much to do. This semester I am taking a Parent Education Class. I have learned a great deal through this class as we have had the opportunity not only to learn, but also instruct parents of the campus preschoolers about effective principles of parenting. Last week as we were in our parenting session we were discussing what we had learned about parenting the previous week and I shared this experience:
Sundays are big days for me. They are renewing in many ways and exhausting in others. Last Sunday evening I was worn out. I was in the bathroom brushing my children’s teeth and I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. I knew that we usually take time to read stories together at the end of the day and that it was important to maintain that ritual, but I didn’t feel up to it that night. As I was brushing teeth and pondering on the thought of whether to read with the children or just put them to bed and go to bed myself, the thought came very powerfully to me that, “There is no room for selfishness in parenting.” I knew immediately that I needed to dig a little deeper and take the time to sit down and read with our children. We finished brushing teeth and as I sat on the couch with the kids snuggled up with me, I knew that we were making memories and that I had done the right thing. It was a peaceful time and we all went to bed feeling positive, content, and happy.
Maintaining routines creates security in children. Children learn to understand expectations from their parents and are able to better control themselves when a routine is established. According to yourparetingsolutions.com, “A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives. As this sense of mastery is strengthened, they can tackle larger [challenges]…Kids who come from chaotic homes where belongings aren’t put away never learn that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In homes where there is no set time or space to do homework, kids never learn how to sit themselves down to accomplish an unpleasant task. Kids who don’t develop basic self-care routines, from grooming to food, may find it hard to take care of themselves as young adults. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits. There’s no reason structure has to be oppressive. Think of it as your friend, offering the little routines and traditions that make life both easier and cozier. Not only will your kids soak up the security, they’ll internalize the ability to structure their own lives.”
Establishing rituals, like reading stories at night, also allows parents to form bonds with their children and creates memories. I have been keenly aware that these little children will not be little forever and it is important to me that our children look back on their lives growing up in our home and have positive and happy memories. Routines and rituals allow us to create those happy feelings and memories.
D&C 88:119 says, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” Sometimes we as parents have to dig a little deeper and realize what is most important for our children. I am so glad that I had that little inspirational thought come to me that Sunday night while brushing our children’s teeth because I have realized that if I am less selfish as a parent; my children will grow up and have positive and happy memories about growing up in our home.
Article written by Janalee Meeker. Janalee is the mother of four and a part-time student in the Department for Home and Family Education at Brigham Young University- Idaho.