I have a pretty active imagination, I think. So when I concocted a family getaway to the marvelously fantastic Silver Dollar City last weekend, visions of singsong road trips, happy bonding and riotous laughter swirled romantically through my noggin.
How blessed my children must feel to have parents who love them so much! They’ll always be able to look back on their childhood with such happy memories! How grateful they’ll be! What a legacy of fun we will leave…
And I was obviously confused.
At one point we walked past another family just in time to hear a father lose it with his most likely very annoying preteen son (because what kid isn’t annoying around age 11?) And though I think we can agree that the guy could have done a better job controlling his temper, especially in public, I heard Josh sympathetically mutter to no one in particular, “I know the feeling, buddy.”
It started with the standard road trip complaints:
“How much longer until we get there?”
“I want more snacks, and not that kind. I don’t like that kind.”
“Why does she get to pick the movie?”
Whine. Complain. General discontent.
But, hey, they should be delightful little angels once we get to the park, right?
“Why does she get to ride in the stroller and I have to walk?
(Same child, five minutes later) “Why do I have to walk and she gets to ride in the stroller?”
“I don’t wanna share my chicken strips!”
“This (impressive live band comprised of individuals talented enough to be featured at an internationally-renowned theme park) is boring! I want ride more kid rides. When do we get to go on the teacups?
And here’s what I learned:
I am trying waaay to hard to impress my children.
There is nothing wrong with taking your kids to visit a theme park. But visiting a theme park under the assumption that my children are going to praise my name because I paid a lot of money, packed a lot of bags and provided for their every need is expecting maybe a tad too much.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine aren’t bursting with rosy-cheeked natural gratefulness.
The more I give the more they seem to expect me to give.
The Debbie Dissatisfieds strike again (and strike early.)
But we knew this was coming, didn’t we?
God had the wisest man on earth write it down for us way back in the olden days, just in case we hoity-toity Americans got in in our silly heads that our children were inherently good and not under the same pesky sin-curse as the rest of us.
Solomon must have recently been around a few kiddos when he penned Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…”
And, unfortunately, the rest of the verse says what we parents have got to do about it.
“But the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15b)
I didn’t intend on this being a blog about the “rod of discipline,” but goodness knows, with all that’s been in the news lately I’m likely to get someone riled up just mentioning it.
I won’t address the spanking vs. non-spanking issue that people just love to spat about today, but I will say that Matt Walsh said it best this week. Read that and take it up with him if you want someone to be mad at (or God, he’s the one that came up with this whole discipline business.)
Parenting is surely one of the fastest tracks to sanctification that God ever devised.
When else are we expected to deal with humans who still routinely lick the water fountain but also somehow think they should be in charge, regularly tell us no, destroy our tidy homes, wipe snot on us, suck our funds, keep us up all night, complain about the delicious home-cooked meals we serve them and then expect us to lovingly tuck them in, get them a cool drink and read them a bedtime story?
To parent well (and I’m not saying I’m an expert), we need more than we have in ourselves.
We need Jesus. We need grace. We need forgiveness. We need a muzzle on our mouths. We need each other. We need prayer. We need wisdom. We need God every moment of every day.
‘Cause if foolishness is a child’s au natural response to life, then Mom and Dad are the first line of defense.
We’ve got a job to do, parents, and it ain’t gonna be easy.
But God is using this to make something better out of us and out of them.
“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” Proverbs 19:17.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
*I want (and need) to hear parenting success stories today, folks! Encourage this exhausted momma and any others reading that the discipline really is worth it!