Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just Parent!

I am arrogant, and judgemental.  I know this and have been praying about it.  I am learning to speak the truth in love, and when I can't, I ask God to keep my mouth shut.  Disclaimer aside, here goes...

Neither Scott nor I are "crowd surfers."  We don't get into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, or harbor any burning desires to see and be seen.  In the last few weeks, however, weather being what it has -- beyond beautiful -- we have been out and about  enjoying various public events.  We have commented-- quite truthfully -- in annoyance, on parents who absolutely refuse to discipline their children.  How many times can you tell a five year old "I really mean it this time" before even she figures out, you don't really mean it at all?  Or how many times can you place your three year old in time-out, only to again become so engrossed in your phone conversation about your new diet, oblivious of his ingestion of deer pooh, before you figure out it's not working?  I am annoyed and perhaps, I am being judgemental, but I also wish to speak the truth in love - love for my children and the next generation of Americans they will attend college with, serve on school boards with, and marry.

Discipline.  Nothing wrong with it.  It keeps us from overeating.  It keeps us from getting too little rest or drinking too much.  It also keeps our children from growing up thinking there are no consequences for their actions. 

My son has been in and out of jail since he was 17.  He knows there are consequences; I taught him of consequences.  It is his arrogance and the insidious work of lawyers (and those who keep paying ridiculous monies for them) who allow him to test or escape those consequences.  I pray for his suffering.  Radical?  Inhumane?  I say, LOVE!  I want something big enough to hit him, big enough to drop him to his knees, big enough to compel him to cry out to God for forgiveness and grace, big enough to raise the quality of his life to something he never imagined.

What is this idea that we all have to feel happy, comfortable, content, loved, appreciated, and just plain positive all the time?  How is it that no one seems to be able to deal with bad feelings? or thinks that they don't deserve to feel bad?  What is this entitlement we are teaching our children -- and we are teaching them!  By not allowing them to feel the sting of guilt or shame, or their consequences, how can our children ever figure out how to make things right on their own?  How will our children ever know the satisfaction of a job genuinely done well if they receive praise for everything they do, rather than "suffer" the learning experience of failure?  Where will they develop their tenacity?  How can a child learn the redeeming value of an apology if we allow them to avoid offering one because of their embarrassment?

And what of parents?  When do we discipline ourselves to put down the cell phone, log off the computer, throw away "mother's little helper" and just parent?!  It's ironic to me that my generation grew up despising parents for their addictions -- prescription drugs, alcohol -- all those things we watched our parents do to escape the pressures of jobs, war, parenting, divorce.  And now?  Some of the addictions have changed, but an addiction by any other name...  We all need "me time" -- whether you soak in a bath, work in your woodshop, or read your Bible.  Perhaps there needs to be some creative scheduling if your "me time" is watching "Burn Notice" while your eight year old tests explosives in the laundry sink. 
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