How do you know when your children are ready for more? More responsibility. More difficult challenges. More space. More hugs. More instruction. More learning on their own. More activities. More free time...
Nearly everyday, I am challenged, as a parent, to figure out when to give my children more. And then there is the less. When to give them less. Because, after all...
Less Is More.
Talk about confusing. It seems all three of my children are going through phases of needing to pass through to the next level and experience more. And yet, while it seems more would be good for them and probably the right thing for them, they are either dragging their heals into the next phase of their lives or just simply are not ready.
Owen will be five in July. I realize that five years old on one kid might be different on another kid. "Never compare your children," the experts say. I try very hard not to, but there are times when my youngest pulls some of the most unheard of stunts and I desperately cry out, "What are you thinking?! You are too old for this!" He did such a thing this morning. Banished to his bedroom to contemplate his actions, he was remorseful, I know. He apologized, unprompted. Okay, so he DOES get it after all. Then he timidly asks me if I still love him. Heartstrings tugged on, I reinforce my never-ending love for him but remind him that my disappointment with him remains and his time-out is not yet over.
Several years ago, I once told my oldest brother that parenting would be a whole lot easier if we didn't love our kids so much. My own words have stuck with me and replayed in my mind when I feel like I am at the end of my rope. Caring for a newborn infant is a piece of cake compared to figuring out the yo-yo emotions of tween angst on the verge of goodness-knows-what! That would be my oldest. Evan, about to turn ten is no longer a little boy and not yet a teenager. He is admittedly nervous about middle school next year, the unknown and the obvious changes in his life - more responsibility, tougher school work and higher expectations here at home as well.
And then there's Jenna, wearing her heart on her sleeve, broken-hearted so easily and taking so much in life so very personally. I can't ignore or minimize her struggles or frustrations with the social circles in the classroom, on the school bus, or on the playground. I can't be there with her. But when she comes home, I can listen and explain and understand and share my similar experiences from life. She must find a way, on her own, to handle life's frustrations. These disappointments, no matter how difficult they may be, will help her grow and learn to be ready.
Ready for more.