October 6, 2010

The Pleaser Parent

Earlier in the week I shared with you my battle with pleasing others. Today, I want to explore how it affects parenting.

If you are a pleaser, then there is a good possibility that you faced some of the same difficulties I did during my first year of becoming a parent. Before our first child was born, we attended parenting classes, read books about parenting, and told ourselves that we were ready. Since I am a rule-follower, I assumed that everything would go as expected. Our baby apparently forgot to read the owner's manual. By week four I was completely devastated that our baby wasn't following the schedule that the book said we should follow. After all, the parenting class assured us that if we stuck to the sleep-eat-play schedule, then life would fall into a normal rhythm. Nope. Not true. We even decided to go for a second round of mental torture parenting classes geared toward the baby-toddler stage. Again, I was devastated when our precious girl only slept for 30-45 minutes during naptime. But the book said....!
Fortunately, my mom encouraged me to close the book and just enjoy it. "God gave you mothering instincts for a reason. Listen to them." That same week my bestie, also a new mom, said, "There is no way that one book can be perfectly written for millions of babies {other than the Bible} with unique personalities." Oh the freedom in those words. I was trying to live up to standards that man had created. And failing miserably.

Into the toddler years I found myself trying to please another source: other moms. While having peers in the same chapter of life can be a blessing, to the Pleaser it can be a mine field. "You feed your children gummies?" "How long did you breastfeed?" "What about potty training?" So many areas in which a mom wants to answer correctly. After child number two I started to realize that there is no magically correct answer to most of these questions. Even though I parent my children (mostly) the same, their own little personalities play a big role. It was a tough lesson, but I quickly learned that if I parent to please others, then my children are really going to be messed up. The urge to please other moms can rear its ugly head in all kinds of ages and stages. "You let your kids wear flip flops in November?" "What time do your kids go to bed?" "What kind of activities are your children involved in?"

As we are slipping into the pre-teen stage I am reminded again of the dangers of being a pleaser-parent. This is the age that a little part of me wants to please them. As we face bigger and more morality-based issues, I have to decide whether it is worth it to be a Pleaser-parent or not. Am I going to let it alter my decision when I get some eye-rollers because I say no to a tv program? Putting on my big girl panties and realizing that I still know what's best for them can be tough.

Even though each stage of parenting brings its own twist and turns, the desire to please remains.
What to do?
1. Pray! Ask the Lord to give you a discerning heart.
2. Audience of One: keep in mind that He is the ONLY one I need to please.
3. Ask: Are my parenting choices pleasing to the Lord and biblically based?
4. Remember: even though some of us have more experience than others, NO ONE is the expert. We're all on a learning curve.
5. Seek good council. It's okay to ask advice from other seasoned parents. Just don't fall into the comparison trap. It's deadly. Also remember that just because a really good parent suggests it, doesn't mean it will work for you. (see #1 above)


Karen said...

Gretchen, this is such a wonderful post and so true through all the stages! I too am dealing with the teenage years at the present. But, one thing for sure no two are alike! The 14 year old does not even remotely come near to the 21 year old's personality. Guess that's one of the ways to see God's hand at work. You are uniquely made!
Thanks for sharing such truths.
I'm having to keep my big one's pulled up all the time with this one.


Learning as we Live said...

Thank you for this! I tried and tried with my 1st, but nothing the books or other parents told me worked! Now he is perfectly fine and I'm trying to remember that with number 2, and just enjoy her before she gets big!! It has been on my heart lately that we moms need to be transparent with each other and not only share the good.

Carpool Queen said...

The best advice someone gave me was "don't take advice from people who aren't in your situation".

That really freed me up to trust my gut and roll with it.

The Morgan Family said...

As a fellow pleaser I thank you for this post. I am in the toddler/preschool years with ours now and I can relate to those questions and wanting to answer "correctly". For me it's the "You don't send your kids to preschool?" that I have struggled with lately. Today at BSF we were asked the question "Are you more concerned with your children's holiness or happiness?" This is one that I pray I will hold on for years to come.

The Robinsons said...

EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning...thank you, thank you!

I get so discouraged when I see a little one potty trained months and months before we can even fathom starting that venture, or moms who can breastfeed with their eyes closed, walking around the house and stirring the spaghetti sauce but I just need to remember that I am doing the best I can for who my kids are and if it is pleasing to the Lord then it will bless my children.

Lori H said...

Love this post!! It's nice to have these reminders when things aren't going like you thought!! Thanks for sharing some insight. It is much appreciated!

Mom said...

Love your post, Sweetie, & obviously it is one that encourages many moms. At least you have the memory of "being" the eye-roller, so you know to expect it, yet are also ready to nip the disrespect in the bud when you should. Being thankful that God created each of us uniquely adds fun to the challenges along the way. You're doing great!

Heidi said...

I'm a recoverig pleaser. I'm so thankful to be freed (for the most part) of the need to please. My husband has been a great encouragement in that area as well.

I've enjoyed your reflections on this topic - thanks for sharing!


Kellie said...

Great thoughts.... and so true. You are a good Mom as evidence in those sweet kiddos you have!

adrienne said...

I never thought of this concepts of a pleaser parent. This is a freeing thought! I don't really consider myself a people pleaser, but a parent pleaser is different. I think I have been one in the past. And it didn't feel good. Giving it a name helps. Thank you.