January 20, 2019
Have you ever wondered how children born and raised in the same household could turn out so differently? I mean, really. How can one child in a family grow up to be lazy and addicted to drugs while the others become healthy, hard-working professionals? From the time I was a teenager, the answer to this question befuddled me. I mean, even back then I understood that every person is born with a unique set of gifts and talents that certainly play a role in who a child grows up to be. But even with these unique character traits, how can children in the same families grow up to live such different lives?
Then, I became a parent. And I discovered the unique role I have in this process. While it is only one small piece to this puzzle, there is a great amount of value in recognizing how my parenting (or lack of it) has and will shape my “less-responsible” children into whom they become.
A couple of years ago, I noticed a trend taking place in my home. Whenever there was work to be done -regardless of how menial the task- I found myself most frequently asking the same two children for help. Rarely would I implore the assistance of the third. In hindsight, it is easy to see why I did it. When I asked one of the “two,” I quickly got compliance. But with the third, a question as simple as, “Can you bring me a cup of water?” or “Take the trash to the road” would almost inevitably start an argument. If I happened to get compliance, this child would quickly begin whining and complaining as he begrudgingly did the task. So, I found myself repeatedly soliciting help from the children who would guarantee the results that I wanted- quick obedience with a good attitude.
In short, asking the two compliant children made parenting much easier for me. Of course, I didn’t acknowledge (or even recognize) that I was neglecting to parent this child effectively for quite some time. Until one day it hit me… Through my “easy” parenting, I was reinforcing my child’s bad behavior and crippling him of the possibility for a successful future.
That day, I made a decision that changed everything! I told the third child that he was the kid of the year. I informed him that EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I needed something to be done, I would be asking him. Only when he embraced speedy submission with a smile, would I begin delegating the responsibility between all three of my children again.
Then, I did what I promised.
Now, don’t think for a second that the follow through was easy. It wasn’t. Truth be told, I wanted to pull my hair out and retreat often. Every day I was faced with challenges. Weeks passed without seeing any positive results. In fact, I often wondered if what I was doing was making any kind of difference at all. A few times, I went so far as to tell myself that success with 2 of 3 kids wasn’t a “bad” ratio. On those occasions I was forced to remind myself of the truth: If I want my children to grow into thriving adults, I have to do my part. I have to teach and correct my difficult children. If I want the results the Bible promises, I have to parent intentionally. I can’t take the “easy” way out.
Proverbs 22:15, says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
Our job as parents is to train our children to be who God has called them to be. Some days, and with some children, this is harder than with others. Nonetheless, as parents, it is still our responsibility.
Over the course of the next six months I was forced to hone my parenting skills like never before. I endured heavy grumbling each time I needed a task to be done. This strong-willed youngster bucked. He pouted and complained every step of the way. We argued, no doubt. But each time I gave him a task, I calmly reminded him that when he started doing ‘”it” with a good attitude, things would change.
And, eventually they did.
I stand completely and utterly amazed at the difference this one decision made in my life, in my home, and most importantly, in my sweet child’s life. Two years later, instead of two compliant children, I have three. Now, when I ask any of my children to help out- to load the dishwasher, to take out the trash, to make me a cup of water or to fold the laundry- ALL THREE of them do it with a good attitude, nearly every time.
I want to encourage you. The momentary suffering is well worth the results. Take a few moments to examine your life. Examine your parenting skills. Ask God to show you where you are “missing it” as a parent and where you are taking the “easy” way out. Then make a decision to change whatever area He shows you. I can promise you that a small decision today will make a BIG difference tomorrow. By taking the tougher route now, your future -and that of your child- will be sweet; and in the long run, a whole lot easier to boot!