Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It's a tricky one

I have been struggling mightily with whether or not I should publish posts on parenting. I want to talk about it because I am concerned for how I see things going in the larger culture, but also in my little sphere. I want to encourage moms and dads, but I also want to plead with them to step it up in the discipline department. And that’s where the struggle gets real: in no way do I want to suggest I have all the answers (my kids will set you straight on that!) or that I have done everything right, as if there is such a thing in parenting. But I have seen some things work better than others, and because I am around so many parents of young children, I sense a real burden to let them know the cultural phenomenon of laissez-faire parenting is not the way to go.

I publish the next few posts with great fear and trepidation. But I cannot shake the thought that I have something to offer parents of young kids. Again, not because I did everything right, but because I made mistakes and it would be sweet to help newer parents avoid some of them. They’ll have their own to make, of course, but if there’s any wisdom to be gained from my 21 years as a mom, I would like to share it.

Today's post was written as an intro to the next several posts on parenting. I guess this is the intro to the intro.

So here goes…

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My baby gets her driver’s license next week. My baby. Driving. As I updated our insurance information, I realized that we’re adding a driver now, but in May will take one off since our oldest is graduating from college and has a job lined up. As I made the changes, all I could think was, “Man, time flies.”

I know, I know. All moms with older kids say that. And all moms with younger kids don’t believe it. Or they believe it in theory but reality – with kids not sleeping through the night and dirty diapers and cheerios all over the floor – feels very, very slow. I remember not believing it. But that was before I blinked twice and saw my baby behind the wheel of my car.

The weightiness of the reality that the time we have to shepherd our kids is short is propelling me to write more about parenting. I want to encourage moms and dads to take advantage of their kids’ younger years to instill a sense of respect and discipline in them. I want parents to hear from someone who can say without equivocation that setting boundaries for her kids made all the difference. Expecting obedience on the first ask, not the third or fourth was good for the kid and the family. I want young families to know that loving your kids is not enough. You have to love them enough to let them not like you for a time. You have to love them enough to say, “I know better.”

How counter-cultural is that – a parent actually says out loud that she knows better than her child!

Yes, I know there’s a balance. Strict, domineering parenting may lead to a peaceful home because rules are obeyed. And a rule-free home may seem peaceful because there are no disagreements since everyone is free to do as he sees fit. But neither actually teaches obedience or gets to the heart of the child. Obviously the sweet-spot is in-between the two extremes. There’s discipline and love. Obedience and appreciation.

Parents, you're in charge. Act like it. Yes, love on your kids. But don’t love without discipline. Don’t love without requiring obedience. That is a sure-fire way to have your kids loathe you. A foolish person despises instruction. Don’t let that be your kid.