I’m not talking about rest and relaxation (although that sounds very nice). I am talking about respect and responsibility. As a parent of four children I find that I have to continually train my children to be respectful to each other, show respect to my husband and me, and demonstrate an appropriate level of responsibility.
Child training is a challenging yet rewarding process. Each day is different, and some days are more rewarding than others. But, the bottom line in child training is to keep moving forward and stay consistent. I have learned that when I say “no” I mean NO! I need to stand strong, sometimes with my hands on my hips, and not waiver. Other times, when I promise to fulfill a request, I also need to be committed to stick to my word. The older generations may not agree with the idea of respecting your children, but I have to say that respect is a two-way street.
The virtue of responsibility is another daily challenge. Each child of mine has a set requirement for chores to complete each day. Do the chores get done? Most of the time. Do they complete the chores with a willing heart? Not as often as I’d like. But as we endure the drudgery of the yucky chores, we are learning a lesson: we are part of a family unit that needs to help each other. Independence is not an option here; interdependence on one another must be the norm. Do my children like to help each other? No, but they are learning that there are some things in life that we must do because they will help us to grow. This is an issue of the heart, and we are shaping our hearts for serving others.
My children and I are learning about the importance of respect and responsibility. We live in a society that does not favor these traits in children. The parents of this current generation are treating their children like little “trophies” — pampering them, giving in to their every whim, and trying to make a smooth path for their future. It breaks my heart when I see a child disrespect his/her parent. I feel like the parents are creating little monsters when they allow the child to talk back, act out harshly, or expect 100% attention all the time.
My children are not perfect. I am not perfect. We live and work and play together, while correcting, shaping, discipling, and training them. My aunt once told me, “Either you pay now, or you’ll pay later.” How true are her words! I may be paying a price now for this training through exhaustion, repetition, sweat, blood, and tears; but, years from now I will look back and smile for the fact that I endured the tough times. I will reap what I sow.
I have read many books on parenting. All of them have different viewpoints and opinions. I have learned to listen to the information that makes sense, and throw the rest of the other advice in the proverbial trash. My children are not guinea pigs in a lab; they are precious treasures from heaven above. Yet, they are little adults in training, and their wills must be shaped without getting their spirits broken. The will is strong, yet the spirit is vulnerable.
One of my favorite songs is called, “Let them be little” by Billy Dean. I usually shed a tear or two whenever I hear that song. Here are some of those precious lyrics:
“Let them be little, for they’re only that way for a while;
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love everyday…”
May you find the strength to finish strong on your path of parenthood. Two of the most important goals you can have is to teach them respect and responsibility. Our future depends on the training you give them today. It’s a tall order, and a heavy burden to bear, but in the end it will be worth it. And, then you’ll finally get some R and R… rest and relaxation.