by Richard Mansel, managing editor
Jennifer felt the beginnings of a headache creeping into her shoulders and neck. Stress pounded at her. Car repairs, bills and time pressures were filling her days and nights.
Her seven-year-old son, Jake, sat on the living room floor with a friend, Adam, from the next block.
While putting towels into the washer, she heard Jake’s loud voice. “Give it to me!” She exited the laundry room and found Jake pulling a toy away from an angry Adam. Adam reached out and grabbed at the toy. The color was rising in both of their faces.
Jennifer wanted the fight and the noise to stop immediately before her head exploded. How would she handle this crisis?
Very often, the dividing line between success and failure is a proper perspective. If we will approach things and ideas in the right way, we will find ourselves moving in the right direction.
Raising children to be responsible adults is very challenging. Accordingly, parenting is not for the cowardly or selfish. We must have courage, vision and extraordinary patience, if we will finish the job.
If we choose to have children, we have revoked our right to be selfish. It is no longer about us. We have little ones who depend on us. However, far too many parents cannot give up their own needs and ego.
All parents know that children will misbehave because they are human and are still learning how to behave. Their misbehavior creates a challenge that we will pass or fail, depending on our overall perspective.
Jennifer can take the road most travelled and scream at them to shut up. She can banish them to different rooms, send them outside or send Adam home and punish Jake.
She can restore her quiet in a host of ways. However, would that be the best path?
Is Jennifer parenting for the moment or the future? The moment dictates that she restores order, so she is no longer inconvenienced. Looking to the future means that she takes a long-term view of parenting and childrearing.
The short-term view of parenting looks at everything in view of our own needs. Their behavior is good or bad, in light of how much trouble it causes us. Everything exists in the moment.
Long-term parenting looks for every opportunity to prepare our children to be better people and to be emotionally healthy. We aspire to be constant guides for them, leading them to maturity. We try to seize moments when opportunities arise.
Short-term parenting can be relatively easy. On the other hand, long-term parenting is tiring and difficult, at times. We must be strong and be willing to meet resistance and anger from our children.
Our children need to be taught and this will involve questions and teaching that they may not want to answer. Yet, we must persevere for the greater good.
Jennifer can stop, despite her headache, and sit down with the two boys and ask questions and use illustrations to help them learn to share, show respect for others and to be gentle and loving. They may be annoyed at her intervention, but she must remain focused.
Choosing our battles [in terms of discipline] and offering our children a complete education [in terms of life lessons] are two different things. We owe it to them to prepare them fully for life. We must remember this goal and that it is more important for them to love us in years to come than it is now, when they do not understand our constant teaching.
We must remain focused on the bigger picture (Proverbs 22:6). Our children are depending on us.
by Richard Mansel, managing editor