Raising Kids – The Payoff (#1)

At some point during each parent’s kid-raising chores, they look at the sky and lament, “Why did I ever have kids?”

As of this writing (March 2014) my kids are 31 and 30, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Every day, I thank God for the miracle He worked in helping shape these two incredible people, knowing there’s NO WAY I could have shaped them into who they are today on my own.

Why am I so proud of them?

Today, they are both responsible adults, people who make good decisions. You’ll hear more about that – making good decisions – in a later article, but for now I’ll just say these “kids” are who they are today based on the decisions they made in the past.

One of the biggest decisions they made – as it is for all of us – was in their selection of a life partner.  While my son chose my daughter-in-law and my daughter chose my son-in-law with their heart, they did so with careful judgment as well, making absolutely certain the person they chose had the right heart as well, before allowing themselves to get totally caught up in the other person.

The result is that they each now have happy, stable families, and they each have two children (yes, my grandkids – who EVER thinks they will be a grandparent!?), and it is in their raising of these precious children that I see what amazing people my own kids have become.

Last week, my daughter-in-law told me that sometimes, in talking to their daughter Katie, she can hardly tell whether it’s my son or me talking to her, because we tell her the same things in the same way, things such as, “You need to obey your Mommy!” It made me feel so good to think my son approved of his upbringing to the point that he’s emulating some of it with his own children.

My daughter is like me in so many ways – we both have a very artistic temperament – but she is distinctly different than I was when it comes to patience with children.

When she and her brother were toddlers and up, I would insist on immediate obedience with only one repetition, or there would be consequences (such as standing in the corner, or no dessert tonight). Shelley (my daughter) is infinitely more patient than I was, tolerating toddler tantrums and whims with a patience  worthy of a saint. Yet despite her patience and calm in the face of kid-storms, she is still determined in her discipline of the kids.

Our watchwords when Shelley and her brother were growing up were “firm but gentle.” Shelley takes this to a marvelous extreme. No matter how badly one of her girls does not want to do something, no matter how loud the tantrum, Shelley remains unfazed, calm, gentle, but sticks to her decisions.

“NO! I don’t WANT to put on my socks!”

“You need to put on your socks and shoes so we can go to the park.”

Three more cycles of this, resulting in crying and screaming (not from Shelley), and Shelley will finally say, “If you do not put your socks on, you will go into timeout.”

Timeouts are rare enough that they’re still an effective deterrent and consequence.

What would I have done? Probably timeout on the second or at worst, third refusal.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter that Shelley’s method of raising her kids is totally different than was my method of raising her. What matters is that she is “firm but gentle,” consistent in her decisions, and most of all, that her every parenting action is permeated with love.

One thing it would pay everyone who reads this to learn – or learn again – is that “Different than me” doesn’t mean BAD. Sometimes it can be better.

In Shelley’s case, I think it is. It certainly is for her.

But can you see why I’m so proud of my kids?

I hope you parents out there can say the same about your kids.

 

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