01 July 2008

Childolatry vs. Negligence

Lately the two-year-old has been so convinced that he needs more of my attention that I’m almost starting to believe him (where his arguments lack in rationality, they more than compensate in volume and violence). Three months into his big brother gig, he vehemently adores BabyBoy, but is still prone to destructive sprees when the new guy nurses, despite my best efforts to do all those things “the books” recommend, like giving him a special toy or offering to read to him and cuddle with him while the baby eats (ha!).

Here’s the problem: there’s only so much pie, no matter how you slice it. BabyBoy needs big helping right now. And my job description, as near as I can figure it, includes not only entertaining/educating the babes, but also dealing with that stack of bills, that empty kitchen table and its sidekick, the full sink, that trail of laundry winding its way through the house…

Stating the obvious: It’s not good for children to grow up thinking that the sun rises and sets on their every whim. Neither is it good for children to grow up thinking that a clean house (or a sibling, or the computer, or whatever) is more important than they are.

And so the game goes. Every day, each child and each chore vies for a larger share of the pie, and I allocate it to the best of my judgment. But I hate those days where I feel like everyone goes to bed still hungry for attention they haven’t gotten, to say nothing of the house’s endless accusations of neglect.

On the darker days, I can console myself with the thought that at least I’m not paying to outsource the neglect of my children, since I’m so perfectly capable of accomplishing that myself :O


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Sometimes NOT getting the attention they want is precisely what children need. I've seen children grow up getting all the attention they want. Spoiled! One of the blessings of a large family is the fact that each child DOES NOT get all the attention he wants.

In my opinion, infants deserve to have their every need fulfilled. They are totally dependent. On the other hand, 2 year-olds need to learn that they can't have everything they want.

That said, Heidi and I share your angst as we also have a very demanding 2 year-old right now, our second son. He is the most testosterone-rich little guy you'll ever meet. But it's amazing how soft and cuddly he is with his new baby sister.

We certainly don't handle the distribution of attention perfectly, but as I tell Heidi: God does! He gives each of us our daily bread. Whatever our children receive in a day is exactly what God decided each of them needed, regardless of all the sin that infected all our decisions, actions, and choices as parents.

As we continue to try to do everything right, we also trust in Christ's mercy in all our failings. Not only does he forgive them, he also makes everything work for good.

Hang in there!

Rebekah said...

The allocation of attention has been gnawing on me lately too. It's so hard not to think about how much I'd be able to do with each one if . . . .

I do feel better knowing that I'm not the only one with a veritable laundry trail.

Dizziness said...

We use our reason to determine what is best for the child. Number three of five gets lost in the mix, so we make a concerted effort to give him some special attention. But this attention isn't license to misbehave. We don't respond to his whining or bad behavior with positive, no matter how much he "needs" attention.

I often think in terms of Law and Gospel. #3 acts up, he doesn't get good gifts. He gets punishment. But forgiveness always wins out. But he gets what he needs always and sometimes he's surprised with what he wants.

Glenda said...

I'm sorry Reb. Mary. It isn't easy, it doesn't get any easier, and those feelings never go away, they tend to rear their ugly head over and over again.

Reb. Mary said...

This blog is great because we can depend on our readers for a Lutheran approach to anything, even tantrums: Law/Gospel, Daily bread--I love it :)

Rebekah, I have to squelch those if...thoughts too. And I've only got 3!

Karin said...

I should come over for coffee sometime. We are expecting number 8 and number 7 is VERY attached and beats on his 5yo brother......I have been contemplating how this is going to play out. Hmmmm.....good post. Perhaps we WILL meet someday and can chat.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Hi Karin!

Hope to see you again this fall at our annual youth retreat at Zion-Marshall, MI. But that will be pretty soon after you're due for #8. Our number 7 was just born and reborn on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Praying for you and baby,

Erich and Heidi

Reb. Mary said...

Make it tea and it sounds like fun :)
Though lately I've been thinking I need to increase the caffeine intake, so maybe coffee's a good idea.
#8 on the way, wow. Hope you still find time to drop by here and share some words of wisdom on how you get everything done!

Karin said...

True. I gave up coffee so I guess that is a catch all phrase. Computer time will be hard to find I am sure but there is always the excuse of needing a quiet time and place to nurse and push buttons with one finger. Short posts.....