Monday, February 7, 2011

Character Over Comfort

Here's a question for you: Will you allow your child, or someone close to you, to suffer a little for their own good? I feel like we as moms are working overtime to give our kids a good fun life where they are never uncomfortable. We purposely structure their time, and ours, to avoid conflict and discomfort.

But, good times don't always lead to growth. I think as adults, most of us know this already. Depth of character is forged in fire, not fluff. Why, then, do we seek to avoid these opportunities on behalf of our kids? In my circles of friendship and conversation, I hear a lot of Mom Guilt going on. If we know we are going to have to give less than 99% of our attention to our child, we arrange something fun for them to do so they aren't under our skin or acting up. When, then, do we teach them that the world will not always cater to them?

I have been occasionally (lovingly) accused that I am guilty of this myself. Particularly with my youngest, because sometimes I feel like he is my last chance to do this motherhood thing "right." Doing "right" sometimes means allowing him to be bored, irritated, or sad, but showing him the correct way to handle these feelings. When he gets to kindergarten, and his teacher can't focus 100% of her loving attention on his sweet little face, will he be able to handle that patiently, without having a total meltdown?

Reading recently in Matthew 4, verse 1 says that "Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." God allowed Jesus to be in a circumstance that wasn't probably his first choice to be in, but that He knew would be laying groundwork for time to come.

Can I challenge you as moms to let your kids suffer a little? Not in an abusive way of course, but in a way that will alow them to learn to deal with adversity constructively? Sometimes things will come up that take our attention away from the little cherub. Give him something to entertain himself, and let him know your expectation that he behave while you are busy. This won't always work, but it works better than always putting his entertainment and comfort before your needs. It works better than creating a false illusion of entitlement that he will have to deal with at some point.

On an even deeper note, I pray regularly that God will take my children, especially the big ones, to a place where they learn to see him as more than a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. That is a scary prayer. To be honest, I usually give God a lot of conditions on how He should answer that one. When things come up that put my adult kids in a tough spot, my first response is "How can I fix this for them?" Then I hear God whisper, "How much do you want them to know Me?" I know I have to release them to His care and teaching, much the same as we have to let our little ones have a hard time sometimes in order to learn and grow. I have to have faith that He has their best interest at heart, and will be there to lead and guide them through their experience, just the same as I will lead and guide my little guys through their tough times.

It's just not easy being a parent sometimes, but we have a great example in God to follow. Just like He is more concerned with our character than our comfort, we need to be okay with developing character instead of maintaining comfort in our kids as well.

1 comment:

  1. You did a great job of laying out the similarities between the bigs and the littles and how one ties into the other.