How to Keep Your Kids Out of Jail
by: Sara Daigle
“Yellow bear, yellow bear, brown bear,
Yellow bear, yellow bear” … ?
“Which one comes next, David?” I asked my four-year-old son.
He knew brown bear was next in line, but because he liked yellow bear more, he chose yellow bear. I took the opportunity to help him lay down his desires for the right choice.
“They want brown bear, David. That’s what comes next.” So he circled brown bear.
I see it all over. Kids grow up doing what feels good instead of what’s best. This transfers into teen years when the lack of discipline disables them from making choices that lead to useful lives of blessing.
Most good things in life require hard work. A child doesn’t grasp that fact, but at a very young, tender age we can (and must) begin shaping them toward the right whether it feels good or not. I love fun, engaging, happy, feel-good moments with my kids. I love enjoying life with them, getting into their zone of fun. But sometimes, I also love taking them out of their feel-good zone into what will help them mold character and an ability to choose rightly when something else feels better.
It’s Monday morning. I go upstairs to four sleepy kids who want nothing to do with school at that moment. But, I’m happy to wake them because I know what they don’t know—that, if they don’t learn to get up, prepare for their duties, and do them regardless of whether or not they “feel” like it, their lives as adults will most likely be far less productive, or even destructive.
It’s up to mama to wake them when they grumble. It’s up to me to see ahead to what they can’t see. It’s up to me to lead, to hold the banner, to grow them into more than what they would grow into on their own.
- It’s up to parents to take charge of that one year old’s taste buds by serving it nutritious food.
- It’s up to parents to create a healthy interest in productive things by reading good books to her kids.
- It’s up to parents to disengage a growing passion for the sensual and evil by refusing to set those types of movies in front of the kids.
- It’s up to parents to say “no” to that child who wants to hang in an unhealthy environment.
It’s up to us to have wisdom our kids don’t yet have. To be willing (and even eager) to step in and make decisions that will make them less than happy when it’s for their own good. We see the greater picture. We see the future, because they need us to.
We’re willing to engage in activities when it’s easier not to. We’re willing to drive farther to meet a good friend than send him off on foot to hang with someone of ill influence.
We’re willing to spend money and take time to help them pursue their passions and interests. That daughter who is a tad bit restless but has always had a passion for dancing, well, maybe it’s time to enroll her in classes each week and spend less on something else.
We are willing to sell that car so we can buy a guitar for the son who is growing up and needs useful interests before he’s idle enough to get in trouble. We engage, we pursue, we help them become. We shop less for ourselves and more for them, if that’s what it takes to give them all they need for joy-filled, productive lives.
Children are at our mercy. They get what we give. In many ways this seems unfair. Why would a beautiful, unblemished child be given to less than perfect parents? If the parent has wisdom, he can still gift his child with things children don’t have by imparting wisdom children have yet to discover–and may never discover on their own.
They become what we are … this one really gets me.
- On “American Idol” very young children perform on stage while parents choke back proud tears of emotion.
- In Amish country, most girls grow up to become competent mothers, cooks, landscapers, teachers. They do the domestic more than well; they do great.
- In California, many girls grow up with great fashion style and spend much time on beauty. They look amazing.
- The Indians in Ecuador raise boys who can creep through brush laden forests with no sound. Boys who eat snail without thought and can slit a pig’s throat with no regret.
- A boy in America will most likely create great crashing noises while navigating through underbrush in the woods, he would probably wait hours or even days before eating that same snail even if he was starving, and would shudder at the thought of slitting a pig’s throat.
- A child raised in the desserts will crave cactus while a child in America will most likely want Oreos.
- Children who are exposed to books of lesser content begin craving those very books. Kids who grow up mostly performing become performers, while kids who are taught to love and serve become useful, caring adults.
- Children who are corrected and scolded over every little mishap become critical and expect a standard of perfection in others.
- Children who are praised for perfection begin to show a “better-than-you” type of attitude, while kids who are loved in their messiness show a much greater ability to relax and encourage others. When they are loved well, they love well.
It’s time to take inventory of our lives and rediscover some things parents would do well to impart to their children. It’s time to be brave enough for change. To realize that the personal becomes far reaching as soon as you wear the badge of parenthood.
Mothers, let’s walk in wisdom whether or not it “feels good”!