Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's Not About Being Liked

Parenting is on my mind lately, which is probably a good thing since I do have five kids. It should probably rank somewhere near the top, right...? Lately my thought has been about how much parenting is needed, and when does it stop.

Before I had any kids, my plan was to have some kids that I could be friends with. I wasn't going to have to yell at them because we would just like each other and they would listen because they liked me.

You can stop laughing now.

It only took a few years for me to figure out that this wasn't going to work. By the time I was 24 I had three kids who weren't listening. Correction. They were listening; they were not obeying. It must be because I wasn't trying hard enough to make them like me, I reasoned at the time. If I disciplined them, that would be mean and then they definitely wouldn't like me. I was more concerned with living in the moment of happiness than looking to the future of what kind of adults I was raising.

John Rosemond, parenting expert, puts it like this: Overwhelming numbers of today's kids are growing up thinking their mothers are obligated to them. Because the mother-child relationship has turned upside-down, inside-out and backward in the course of 40 years, today's child is at great risk of becoming a petulant, demanding, ungrateful brat.

He said it. I didn't.

Twenty-three years have passed since I had my first child, four since I had my last. (Yes, I'm sure he's the last.) I won't say that I have raised petulant, demanding, ungrateful brats, but I can definitely see the fruits of the seeds I planted. I was not a Christian and had no exposure to biblical discipline when I was raising the first batch of kids. While I thought I was providing a loving and accepting environment for them, I was actually teaching them that they were in charge. Have you ever been left in charge when you felt totally incapable and overwhelmed by a situation? It's a scary place to be when nobody is qualified to be the grown-up, and the grown-up in charge is too busy making friends to discipline anybody.

I am glad to say that I've learned a few things over the years. I can see the difference between loving your kids by being their best friend and loving your kids by being the grown-up in the house, the one who makes the decisions that won't endear you to them in the moment but long term will pay off. I am brutally aware that I am raising adults who need to be equipped for the world they will live in, a world that won't cater to them like their mommy.

God has not left us alone in this all important task. Just for fun, because there are too many to list here, do a search at on the word "discipline" and see what it says. We can apply everything to our kids that God applies to us. Here is one of my favorites:

For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
are the way to life.
Proverbs 6:23

1 comment:

  1. My children are 23 & 24 and we are beginning the lifelong "adult" relationship! I was always a parent when my children were younger--and at times not popular with them; but now they appreciate it. I believe that God's grace covers the blunders of parenthood when He knows your heart is in the right place.