Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No More Perfect Kids~

No More Perfect Kids: Love the Kids You Have, Not the Ones You Want

Jill Savage and Kathy Koch have a theory- every parent has two sets of kids. 

The first set is the ones you always dreamed about, the Perfect Kids. 
The second set are the Imperfect Kids, the ones you sometimes don't even recognize as your own. 
You envisioned a reader, you got a fashion designer. You hoped for an aspiring doctor, he wants to me a mechanic. 
You want to pass on your love of people, she's an introvert. You adore music, the stuff screaming from his iPod is a din.
"These are mine?" Yes, they're wonderful, but they're nothing like you dreamed of! 

So what is a parent to do, when dreams and reality are sometimes far apart? 
How do you surrender those dreams and embrace the real live children you've been given? 
Thankfully, Jill and Kathy understand all about this. And they've written this little book, packing all 270 pages full of practical wisdom, to help you engage with and love your Imperfect Kids. 

This book is framed around seven questions, questions rarely voiced but ever-present in the human heart.
Each chapter looks at why children feel this way, and then talks about parental responses that will help the child as they grow. 
These basic questions keep reoccurring through life, and you may find that you're still asking them today- openly or unconsciously.

One: Do You Like Me? "Of course, I love you!" No. Do you LIKE me? As one girl observed to Dr. Kathy, love was almost a guarantee. They're her parents, after all. But she didn't feel liked. And liking is a combination of being wanted, seen, heard, and received with compassion.

Two: Am I Important to You? We spend a lot of time asking this question one way or another, in each relationship we're part of. You know you're important when someone cares about what you're Doing, Thinking, and Feeling.

Three: Is It Ok I'm Unique?  What makes us unique will often drive us crazy until somebody helps us find a hidden strength in the middle of it. 
When Dr. Kathy was young, she didn't want to be tall. It took creative parents providing good opportunities to help her appreciate her height.
This chapter reminded me- You have to dig beneath the surface of an annoying complaint to see if there's a genuine concern that the person is afraid to share.

Four: Who Am I? {Could have been subtitled "The Scariest Question in the Universe." How the heck do we begin to answer this one?} 
Perhaps we've made the question too large and intimidating. Jill and Kathy show that we can help kids by providing positive identity statements often.
"You are God's, and you are Loved" is a great start. "You are a loyal friend and a clever problem solver" is a great addition. Whatever you come up with, it all boils down to "You are a unique and unrepeatable miracle!" 

Five: Am I a Failure? This question is most terrible when you're afraid to ask it, when it just rolls around inside your head. Everybody needs a safe listener, who can hold a heavy question like that. We can build up the truth that nobody is a failure by learning how to process mistakes in a healthy way. 
The purple marker stain is a good place to begin- focus on solving the problem, and if it's unsolvable, give grace to yourself and the kid.
This chapter also addresses the Big Stuff- the mistakes no parent wants to see their child make. The ones that change their life. Even then, Jill and Kathy insist, God is present in it all. 

Six: What is my Purpose? Again, let's start small and local. You can help your child experience purpose by giving them chances to make a difference. It sounds too simple, but in my experience it works. Whatever chance you have to help somebody or serve somebody, let the kids help meet those needs. 

Seven: Will You Help Me Change? If what we see in the kids around us are areas requiring growth and maturity, then we'd better be prepared to help them achieve it. Helping somebody else change presumes that we ourselves are committed to healthy choices, vulnerability, and honesty. As always, coat the process liberally with grace. Neither adults nor children find change easy- children's struggles just happen to be more evident. 

Jill and Kathy may have written an indispensable book, here. It could certainly set you on track to "Loving Your Kids For Who They Are."

I thank MP Newsroom for my review copy.

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