A few weeks ago in a post on parenting, Liam asked me elaborate on one particular comment. I decided to elaborate in a new post. I mentioned in the post that one of the things that I have learned as a parent is this:
I wish that I had not made such a big deal over some things that really were not that important.
It is very easy as a parent to simply react. (Or at least it was very easy for me.) Something happens that is unpleasant or unwanted and a parent can very easily get upset. Yet some things are just not worth getting upset about. Some things need to be dealt with but are not worthy of the emotional energy that some of us may give to them. Charlotte helped me with this one over the years. She would remind me that in the larger scheme of things, some things are not worth getting the anger we give to them.
Children will be immature and irresponsible. That may be quite different from being rebellious or defiant.
That doesn’t mean that immature or irresponsible behavior is ignored. In fact, quite often there are consequences that need to go along with certain behaviors. Ideally, the consequence ought to be logical or natural so that a child can see the connection between what she did and the consequence.
As long as you have children in your house, there will be interesting moments. That is not necessarily bad or good. It is just a part of growing up. I remember:
- Hearing the sound of footsteps on our roof only to see that our daughter and her friends were on the roof of our house.
- Coming home to a house full of smoke after popcorn was scorched in the microwave.
- Dealing with interesting things happening to their cars.
- Watching how they were spending their money on clothes, etc.
If I were to add things from my own childhood, my parents might include:
- Burning all kinds of food in our kitchen.
- Putting a major dent in my dad’s car door when I backed out of the garage.
- Hitting a golf ball through my mother’s kitchen window.
- Throwing a baseball through my sister’s bedroom window.
On and on my list could go. A parent has to have the wisdom to know what things are major and what things are minor. As I recall, my parents did not get that upset about those broken windows. My dad came to me and told me how much each one cost and that I had to pay for them. That is a natural consequence.
Looking back, I wish that I had not gotten as upset about some things as I did. Our children had a certain amount of money which they spent to purchase their clothes each fall. I remember getting upset once as I heard about how much one spent on a pair of jeans. Charlotte said, "OK, I think it is too much as well. But let her realize that now she has spent so much money on jeans that she doesn’t have very much money to buy anything else." Very good. That is a natural consequence.
Occasionally, Charlotte would remind me that our children love the Lord, they are not partying, in jail, doing drugs, etc. She reminded me that we have to keep these things in perspective. She was right.
Bottom line? Parents need to pray for wisdom. Those of us whose children are grown need to pray for other parents to have wisdom. After all, being a parent is not easy work.