Why Are My Kids So Different?

Serenity PrayerFor some reason, the word “dichotomy” has been coming out of my mouth a lot in recent days. I’ve used it at work and in recent conversations with friends on a variety of topics. The definition of this interesting word is “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.”

As a single parent of two teenagers who could not be more different, I find that my parenting style has to be tailored accordingly. The tactics I take with my daughter are vastly different than those of my son. I’m convinced that while this dichotomy taxes my physical and mental abilities on a daily basis that it is meant to teach me a very important lesson.

From the time of my son’s birth, I spent every waking moment with him. Rarely did I want him out of my sight. I couldn’t wait to see him when he woke up in the morning and I relished the moment when I would pick him up from daycare and he ran to me with open arms. I read to him, played games with him, took him to local attractions, and of course, went to every single one of his sports activities. In short, he was the love of my life.

While the parenting of my daughter in those early years was not all that different than my son, her reactions were. It was clear from the get go that she was a “do-er”. She did everything early from crawling to walking to talking. While one could attribute this to having an older sibling and wanting to ‘keep up’, I think it was in her DNA to achieve and to be independent.

Fast forward to the teen years and not much has changed. My son is the child who needs me more and my daughter, well, let’s just say she doesn’t need me at all. She is on auto-pilot and knows exactly what she’s doing at all times. My son needs a bit more hand-holding in order to realize the dreams he wants for his life.

As a single parent with a full-time job, parenting my daughter is a walk in the park (well, except for the teen drama stuff). I rarely, if ever, have to remind her about anything. My son is a different story. As you can imagine, this leads to squabbles on a near-daily basis. While I want to shout out, “Why can’t you be like your sister?” I have to remember that he is his own person on his own life journey and my job is not to change him into what I want, but to allow him to be who he is.

Is the serenity prayer coming to mind about now?

“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity. What a lovely word. Likely a word that every busy mom hopes to have if only for a few minutes.

mom relaxing

It’s easy to have peace when all is going well. The tough thing is to secure it when your world is rocking; when bills are overdue or you have to replace a major appliance or challenges at work appear to be monumental. This is the real test of faith.

As strong as my faith in God is, there are days when I’m like a piece of debris in the eye of the tornado. Twirling around with no direction, no solution. If I give in to the chaos, I’m sunk. I’ll fall prey to negative thinking and a “woe is me” attitude. Not good.

So what do I do when the winds of life threaten to toss me about? I ask for help. I stop and say a simple prayer, “God help me”. I say it over and over in my head until the noise settles and the storm calms. Nearly every time I do this, my heart stops racing, my mind stops badgering me, and my spirit is at peace.

How does it work? Simple. My faith tells me that confusion, worry and negative thinking do not come from God. It’s not part of His plan for my life. His plan is for me to be happy, to prosper, and to live a peaceful life. It’s only when I forget this simple fact that my life becomes overwhelming.

I am going through many challenges these days. Every day I have to remind myself of these basic tenets of my faith. If I don’t, down the rabbit hole I will go which serves no one, especially my children.

If I’m to be the example of how to live a faith-filled life, I can’t crumble every time I get thrown off course. I can’t cry at every wrong turn taken or bad decision made. I can’t just talk the talk, but I have to walk the walk even when putting one foot in front of the other is overwhelming.

Are you overwhelmed? Tired? Unmotivated? I invite you to consider the following from Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Jen’s Gem: When your source of strength comes from above and not from yourself, you truly can do anything…even be a mom for two completely different teenagers.

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