The common sense of the godly preserves them. Proverbs 11:9 (MSG)
I’d like to be the ideal mother, but I’m too busy raising my kids. —Unknown
One hundred years ago most people got their parenting advice from family or neighbors. In the good ol’ days mother DID know best because she was one of the few providing input. Old wives’ tales came from old wives . . . and one listened to them because there was no such thing as Google, or blogs, or parenting magazines. (Not to mention Twitter, where I can get advice from a “friend” in 140 characters or less!)
Today voices come at us from every direction, and common sense is often figured out by what idea/suggestion/tip most experts agree with. I don’t know about you, but I’m often afraid to trust my gut unless I check out three sources, read five blogs, chat with my closest circle of friends, and post a question on Facebook, just to make sure my gut is right. But should it be that way? Is it only possible to be responsible if we’re in step with status quo?
Writer C.E. Stowe says, “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” Or as my friend Kim, mom of two preschool-aged boys, puts it, “Doing what I should do, not what I want.”
I remember my first big ah-ha, common-sense moment. I was about ten years old when I was at the grocery store with my mom, my mom’s friend, and the friend’s three-year-old son. The friend had put a package of decorated cupcakes in her shopping cart and for five minutes the boy screamed. He wanted one. Now.
The other mom kept explaining that they were for after dinner. She threatened and she pleaded with him to stop, but he continued to whine. Finally, at the checkout line the boy’s whines exploded into tears. I still remember my shock when the mom got the cupcake out of the package and gave it to her son.
“There, are you happy now?” she asked. He was (at that moment, at least). He ate the cupcake with a frosting-and-sprinkle-decorated smile.
Even though I was a kid myself, my common sense told me she’d just encouraged his horrid behavior. When I had kids, I understood the problem better. The mom had been embarrassed. She was no doubt tired from a long day. It was only one cupcake, right? What would it hurt? Yet that memory molded my own practice with my kids. Even though I “gave in” at times when I shouldn’t, common sense won out the majority of the time. Common sense told me that if I allowed that behavior when my son was four, there would be BIGGER problems when he was fourteen.
Common sense means telling our child “no” when she asks for a snack before dinner—even if it means she’s going to throw a fit. It means praying with your child and reading a book before bedtime, even though you’ll miss the first ten minutes of your favorite show. It means actually looking at your child and answering when he is talking to you, even if the email/Facebook message piques your interest more.
When common sense is mated with our sense of responsibility as a mom, two key ingredients of Mommy Sensibility are in place. But like the little ones in our care, sensibility must be unwrapped, appreciated, understood, and nurtured. And with nurturing, our Mommy Sensibility grows.
How about you? How does common sense impact your parenting?
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