by Melinda G. Gardner, APPLE Pregnancy Care Center
We all know that this past year was unusual and difficult in so many ways. Most parents spent a lot more time with their kids which was a blessing and also very hard at times. I think it’s great to remind ourselves – as parents – of a few important things. These lessons have helped me so much as a parent.
I had a wonderful childhood, fantastic parents who modeled wonderful things to me and loved me well. They also weren’t perfect. Sometimes we think back and laugh about the things we were and weren’t allowed to do as children or the way they handled things. But they did know how to show grace.
Grace is defined as undeserved favor, consideration of others, and disposition of kindness and compassion. It’s about love and mercy. We all need it. We all want it. We all need to show it.
Here are a few things that have helped me along the way:
1. Understanding someone’s point of view: Have you ever been in a situation with your child where you reacted before you knew the whole story? Of course — we all have. Perspective is important here. So are patience and kindness. We need to remember that we don’t think the same way and that can be a wonderful thing.
I recently watched an animated video where an elderly woman bought the last package of cookies out of a vending machine. She then went out to sit on the bench to wait for the train. As she looked down on the bench, the young man next to her started eating the cookies. She was puzzled, curious, and then very angry. She grabbed her cookie as he ate his. When she boarded the train, she saw the cookies that she had purchased were in her purse. The cookies on the bench belonged to the young man! Perspective. We can be so sure we’re in the right, when we’re totally wrong, because of our understanding of the situation.
2. Stop and listen: We don’t always know the whole story when we react, do we? What a great reminder to slow down, listen and find out the whole story. Life is better when we react with grace, kindness and consideration for our children, our spouse, and even ourselves. Sometimes we punish the child who didn’t start the fight because we don’t take the time to listen to both sides.
3. Give grace to myself and my children: Which reminds me — am I being too hard on myself? Am I expecting perfection — or something close to it? What if we accepted grace from God, from others, and from our family? Doesn’t that overflow into “powerful, practical helpfulness” to others? It’s much easier to give grace to our kids when we can accept grace ourselves.
If you or someone you know could use some support during pregnancy or parenting, the APPLE Pregnancy Care Center is here for you. We offer “Bright Course” – a way to learn more about pregnancy and parenting. You receive material help with clothing, diapers, baby items and much more. Just call 715-834-5254 for more information or an appointment. All services are free and confidential.