My three year old is an expert at tantrums. Spectacular, red-faced, roaring tantrums that make the very walls quake with his emotion. He can melt down over the slightest offense. Now, I could prevent these daily household disruptions by simply giving him whatever it is that he’s demanding – is chocolate sauce and Cheetos really such a bad dinner? Sour gummy worms for breakfast – surely there’s some Vitamin C in there, right? Giving in would make my life so much easier.
I was shocked once, at a Family Life Weekend to Remember seminar, to hear the speaker say that my job as a parent is not to raise a happy child.
I’m sorry, what?! Come again?
My job is to raise an obedient child who understands that every choice has a consequence – good or bad.
The funny part is – an obedient child is much more likely to be happy. An indulged child, conversely, is much more likely to be unhappy. If we give our children everything they want, they will grow up thinking they deserve everything they want. So often, both adults and children alike, we associate happiness with indulgence, when it’s really quite the opposite.
My older son is quick to remind me, however, that happy doesn’t happen in the short-term. He claimed just last night that I make his life miserable (because I asked him to put his own underwear away. I’m such an ogre.) He moaned about the unfairness of it all.
I tried to gently remind him that really, sweetheart, I’m not asking that much. You have a warm bed to sleep in. Clothes to wear. Food – plenty of it – to eat. Your life could be worse. We talked for a bit about what “worse” really means. I’m not sure he gets it yet, but that’s ok, I’ve got plenty of time.
In bending these rigid wills, in shaping these selfish hearts, in forcing the inward focus outward, I’m coaxing them into better human beings. It will hurt. They won’t like it.
Neither did I when it was done for me.
This morning, when I did not grant one of my preschooler’s whims, his reply was: “But I WANT it!”
The thing is, Lovey, life doesn’t always give you want you want. Learn now, learn later, but Love-of-My-Life-Little-Son – you WILL learn. And, later will hurt more.
But, better now than later. Better now when I can cuddle and kiss them and ease the consequences of wrong choices – even granting grace as appropriate. Because adult consequences, at least those of this world, don’t come with a whole lot of grace. In the grown-up world, there aren’t second chances, and saying “sorry” doesn’t make it all better.
So, pardon me while I go make my kids miserable. I love them too much to do anything less.
I love them too much to let them stay the way they are.
Adelle Gabrielson is a boy-mom of two, and has been married to her first love for 14 years. Retired from a career in marketing communications and advertising, she now spends her days working as a secretary at her church, and her evenings trying to keep peace between the boys. Adelle has been writing personally and professionally for well over a decade; you can find her work with Focus on the Family, (In)Courage, SeaShine Magazine, The MOB Society, Bay Area Parent, and MOPS International. Read more about Adelle’s life and times at www.AdelleGabrielson.com.
P.S. (Two Things)
1. Yikes, we’ve been having a hard time getting our first book club started. Thanks for grace! We think we’re finally figuring out how things work in our forums, and hope to have week three of Raising Real Men up this Friday in that space. Until then, you can go back and interact with the info from week’s one and two! See you Friday!
2. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the very first collaborative work from the MOB Society Writers! From Mom’s Failure to God’s Grace is available now, and your purchase today helps end Bible poverty for the people of the DRC, ravaged by civil war and in need of the hope of the Gospel. Just $2.99 for your Kindle or as a immediate PDF download.