As a parent the one thing that will continually challenge you is the need to balance providing for your child with spoiling your child. It should be simple, and when they are little, it is a lot easier to accomplish this.

We splurged when our oldest was a toddler and got her a kitchen set with the hopes that she would enjoy it as much as she did the one at her daycare. Also that while she was enjoying the set, I could get some chores/cooking done. Before we bought it, my husband and I chewed our nails and looked at it constantly at the store. Then one day we just bit the bullet, tossing it into the buggy and rushing to checkout before our budget could talk us out of it.

I grinned the whole way home. I was so excited to see her work in her little kitchen set. We immediately pulled the pieces out of the box and began putting it together. It was shiny and new, and she was nowhere to be found. She’d grabbed the giant box into the other room and was playing in it. Turns out, the giant box was way more fun for that first week than the expensive new toy. So instead of fighting it, I handed her colors and let her decorate the box. And sadly I looked at the new kitchen set every time I walked by.

Eventually, the box joy faded and she wore out that little kitchen. She started cooking up a storm, not regular food of course, but rocks and caterpillars she’d bring in from outside. The true test of a good parent is whether or not you will sip on some dead caterpillar tea.

Over the years, we would find ourselves constantly stretching our budget a little just to get the kids something nice. Maybe it’s the mentality of providing what we never had or just that we enjoyed seeing our kids happy.

The one thing I forgot about was that life is supposed to be a challenge. When they were little, there were few challenges because I smoothed the way for them. I drank that caterpillar tea.

So while my goal was to provide a safe and happy childhood, I forgot that being a Christian is hard and living a Christian life is even harder. I tend to shelter them rather than expose them. My heart says, “yes, it’s your job to give them that stability.” Yet my head says, “Nobody handed you a thing!”

How do you juggle parenting in a world where everyone has their hand out? You pray on it. You lift up your kiddos to the Lord and you KNOW that regardless of what journeys come ahead, that he will provide for them. You recognize that he loves them even more than you do, and that one day, they won’t be just your kids, but your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Raising two teenage girls, I find myself at the point where my parenting has to change and adapt. I can’t just say, “because I said no” anymore. I have to explain and use logic to show the reasons for my decisions. Why? Because if I don’t, then they won’t learn anything. They won’t understand deeper thinking and how to question decisions for themselves in the future.

How it is possible that the same set of parents can create Night and Day? While they share some characteristics, my girls are complete opposites in so many ways.

One is patient and willing to wait for the outcome she wants; the other is impatience and impulsive, determined to force the outcome she wants. Geez, wonder who latter takes after?

One is outspoken with no filter; the other will hold it in till the Rapture, one is a lefty and the other righthanded, you name it and the list goes on and on.

As I am walking through this new parenting challenge, I have to say, I’m learning the hard way that one-size parenting doesn’t work. I’m learning to adjust my parenting to the specific kid in question. Just like they wear different styles of clothes; they need different things from their mom.

And I need someone to remind me that they won’t be teenagers forever… please… puh-lease.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.