Monday, May 25, 2009

Book spotlight: Professionalizing Motherhood

While we were at Massanutten Resort, we hit the local thrift shops and found them to be quite good. I was especially pleased to find the book Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage (about stay-at-home moms) at the Salvation Army - for $0.50! I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. Now that I've read it, I assure you it has earned its place on my "keeper" shelf!

There are so many good things in it that I hardly know where to begin, so I guess I'll spotlight the biggest thing that struck me when I read it: shame-based parenting vs. grace-based parenting.

I'll be honest - I saw myself here, and I didn't like what I saw. After reading that chapter, I took a hard look at how I treat my children and how they react to me. I've been guilty of wanting my children to be perfect, to respond like mini adults, simply because our family is in the spotlight and I don't want them to embarrass me. That's not fair to them.

My kids need permission to make mistakes without me telling them that they do this "all the time." They need me to respond to spills as the mole hill accidents they are, not the Mount Everest transgressions I make them out to be.

I've been mulling this over in my mind for a few days, and I've on purpose paid attention to how my kids react when they've made some childish mistake. It bothered me to notice that my daughter seemed afraid to tell me that she spilled the water she had been using with her watercolor paints. I checked myself before I responded with my habitual comment about her clumsiness and all the work it makes for me. (She does seem to have two left feet ...) Instead, I hugged her, kissed her, and went to clean it up. She seemed surprised, but relieved, too. [Note to self: Get out those no-spill paint cups in my homeschool supplies!]

I need to work on this and think before I speak. I don't want my kids to think of me as a tyrant. Sure, there's a place for correction. But I need to remember that my kids are only three and five - not sixteen, or even ten. They will make childish mistakes that are not life-threatening or harmful in any lasting way. They need me to respond with grace ... exactly the way I want God to respond to me.

Would I want God to respond to me the same way I respond to my children? That's a mother's equivalent of the time-honored question, "What would Jesus do?" It's what I'm focusing on for awhile.


Susan said...

Sounds like a good book! You've done a great thing in realizing how you've been responding to your children's mistakes. There are childish mistakes, and there is outright disobedience! My dear, wise husband pointed that out to me when our children were toddlers, and I'm so glad he did! We punished for disobedience, but mistakes were usually handled with grace - not always, because we are humans who sin. Now our children are 20, almost 18, and 16, and they are our best friends! :)

Esther said...

I like what Susan wrote.....BIG difference between mistakes and disobedience. I think it was my father-in-law that had a "no tolerance" rule for "direct disobedience" but has heaps and stacks of grace for honest mistakes and childishness. Disobedience was ALWAYS punished, and as my husband is fond of saying "he learned lessons he didn't forget for a loooong time!" Mistakes on the other hand were treated with love and patience --- I think he's pretty balanced!
I remember evaluating myself on the same issue (how I respond to mess ups) quite a while back, and also noticed I could be too hard (I am a perfectionist after all!). Made a big difference in our relationship, and though she's only six I LOVE spending time with my daughter and she loves spending time with me! Always makes my day when she'd rather be with/do stuff with her daddy and me than anyone else!