Remember that birthing class or adoptive parent prep class you and the Mister took when you were an expectant parent? It offered helpful hints on how to get through labor and little glimpses on the process of bringing a child into this world. I think they should conclude the class(es) with a bit on family philosophy. As in “if you do not have a plan or philosophy, then you will try to fit your life into other people’s plans.” (pg 36 Desperate). After all, you are inundated with parenting books to read, advice (solicited or unsolicited) from other parents, and societal expectations of what “family” should look like, be like, feel like- so have a philosophy of what you and your spouse want before you set about this journey.
Develop your own personal Family Philosophy.
How will you show your children love? Will you treat them all the same? Do you believe ‘equal’ is ‘fair’ (or are they different)? You are your children’s ultimate example (on everything) so how will you want your relationship to balance instruction with love and friendship? Are you your child’s friend? Does your spouse come before your kids or do your kids come first? Why? What are your thoughts on discipline? Do you believe in spanking? If so, for what kinds of behavior would you spank? How will you incorporate your faith into your family? Will you include cultural traditions such as Santa**? If so, are your prepared to have the conversation (eventually) that the fantasy of Santa was a gift to them even though he isn’t real despite the years you worked so hard to convince them otherwise (** no judgment from me on to do or not to do Santa, it’s just something you need to consider; you might just have that one kid who feels like the profession and encouragement to believe in a fictitious character was a betrayal)
Let your kids in on your Family Philosophy
We like to talk in terms of “The (Last Name) family does this…” kept in a positive tone, so that our kids are constantly aware of our philosophy, rules, and at the same time develop a sense of familial identity. Some of our Littles are too young to comprehend an official philosophy but they aren’t too young to understand how they belong and behave in our large family. This kind of language (The -Last Name- Family does..”) encourages us and keeps us all united.
Time goes by and philosophies change
The Mister and I sit down each anniversary weekend and reevaluate our philosophy. We talk about what’s working and not working for our family/kids. It’s nothing big. It’s just a dinner for 2, out at a restaurant with all our joys, triumphs, concerns, and ideas on what needs to change/stay the same.
One thing that Sally Clarkson talks about (in ch. 3 of Desperate) is how [people she calls] Job’s Friends felt free to insert their well-meaning thoughts on what God’s will was for their lives. She was referring to the Job of the bible, when Satan was inflicting and afflicting him with all kinds of pain and torture, and how his friends gave their well-intentioned thoughts on his situation. I love that she calls them Job’s Friends. Do you know some of these kind of characters in your own life? People who just love to tell you God’s will for you? In the end, Job stands strong through the torture and his faith was unwavering. It looked crazy to outsiders but ultimately “what other people thought of his path was irrelevant.” (pg 34)
What I find so interesting about ‘other people’s thoughts being irrelevant’ is on how many times I actually ask for advice. I ask because I care about the opinions of my friends. I want to know what they think about a particular situation more often than I consult God first. – insert a bit of shame here- But He knows I’m not perfect; doesn’t expect it; still loves me. Grace is the blessing. Amen and amen.
Next: Sara Mae’s section on ch. 3 (formulas and guilt, stubborn children)