In a conversation the other day there was appreciation expressed by those gathered about a family in our church.
Their children are amazing, as are all children. There is a something more, though, about this clan, and the gathered women got to wondering about what it was that set those kids up to shine so fully.
My sense about one of the reasons for shine? The parents know that they are the parents.
There was a columnist, John Rosemond by name, who used to have a syndicated column on parenting that ran in the Duluth paper while I was raising my babies.
He was a no nonsense kind of guy. He was often blunt and gray seemed not to be in his color palette.
What he stressed was that kids need boundaries and limits. They need the comfort and relaxing good of knowing that their parents are in charge. They need to know at age 6 (or 2 or 16), when they are not equipped to run the world, that their parents will step up and make the hard decisions and set the limits that need setting.
I think he is right. Saying “no” and maintaining chains of command is not always popular. Kids are wired to push up against the authority we seek to maintain. It’s how they learn. They will fuss for sure and push all the buttons their clever and intuitive souls know how to find.
But in the end they will thank us, I believe. The world is an anxiety-stirring place. Knowing that they are not in charge of the big things (and sometimes even the little things!) helps children to explore their worlds safely and with confidence.
The other thing Rosemond stressed was the need for parents to order family life in such a way that they take time for themselves; both as individuals and as a couple. When our lives are solely focused on our children, we send them the wrong message and for sure it is a set-up for disillusionment when they leave the nest and discover that the world does not revolve around them.
It’s been awhile since I was in the kids-at-home trenches. It is hard and heart-stomping work, raising babies. The list of needs is endless and the list of anxieties about doing it right (whatever that means!) is endless as well.
And, it’s the most important work I’ll ever do.
God bless parents. May we find the patience, strength, joy and forgiveness to keep on keeping on.