Yesterday I posted about a ‘teaching moment’ I had with my oldest during a card game. I wrote about how proper training requires much more of our time that putting a band-aid on the issue.

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking on this quite a bit.  Parenting is not for the faint at heart.  The proper training and instruction of child takes time, a LOT of time.

As society seems to be falling apart; kids more disrespectful day by day, I can’t help but wonder if parents have lost the diligence that is required for instructing their young people.  In my own life, I see a direct connection between my times of laziness as a parent and a downward spiral in the behavior and attitudes of my children.

A scenario for you.  I am resting on the couch during our afternoon ‘quiet time.’  The girls are each in a bedroom upstairs, either sleeping or quietly playing.  Alexander is asleep (hopefully) on the couch down stairs.  I am tired.  I want to rest; either taking a nap or reading a book, when a child exits a bedroom and comes with a question or request.  Now, there is 1 main rule during quiet time: stay quietly in the room until I call you downstairs.  Pretty simple.  But not always popular.

The request from the child might be to come downstairs early, or to get a toy out of another room, or a number of other things.

What should happen: (possibly) entertain the question, and provide an answer.  If child protests my answer, I may remind them of them that they need to stay in the room, giving them another opportunity to obey. If (when) the protest continues, I should get up off of the couch, go upstairs, and deal with the child.

This is what should happen, but this requires effort and energy.  This requires me doing something that I don’t want to do (interrupting my own quiet time) to deal with a frustrating situation.  This requires that I put my selfish desires aside for the benefit of my child (mainly, building their character by teaching them respect for authority and obedience to mama the first time).

But oh, how much easier it seems, to get a bit louder with my requirement that they stay in their room.  It seems easier because I can do this from my lounging position on the couch.  I simply escalate my voice.

But take a guess as to whether this is ever effective?  Walk down this road with me…all that will happen is an argument between the authority figure (me) and the child…did you catch that sentence.  An ARGUMENT, between an authority and a child.  For starters, that is something that should never happen.  It should never reach the point of argument…if it does, I have failed in doing my job of enforcing the household/family rules.  So, I argue with this half-pint, she argues back, and eventually I am yelling the same words that I started out saying: go back in the bedroom, it is still quiet time.

So, which response is really the easier response?

Which response yields a harvest of righteousness that I, as a parent, hope to see in my child?

Which response is teaching my child proper communication, proper respect for parents?

Which response is going to produce the type of child that I actually like, the kind of child that I want to be around and spend time with.

I find it so sad and tragic when parents are so eager to get their teenagers out of the house.  And I can’t help but wonder if mom and dad did a better job when the child was 3, maybe when they turned 13 they wouldn’t be such a punk.

But it’s hard.  It is hard to interrupt my life to deal with this little life.  It is hard to put down dinner preparation to properly discipline a child.  Or interrupt a much needed rest to correct a bad attitude.  It is HARD.  It is HARD to be a good parent.  Hard and tiring.

It seems to me that parents have to choose between two paths.

Path A seems easier.  It is the ‘sitting on the couch, yelling’ path.  Failing to address discipline issues properly.  Scolding, yelling, grounding, etc, without ever addressing the problem and correcting it.  In the moment, this path seems easier, but it leads to out of control little people who turn into really out of control big people, causing shame and sorrow for mom and dad.

Not a great choice.

Path B is HARD.  It is time-consuming and exhausting.  It requires placing the discipline and training of your children at the top of your priority list, for as long as they are in your home.  But, after those long years of diligent training, there is a good likelihood that you will have produced children you actually enjoy being around. Young adults that are a joy, not an embarrassment.

While this path requires much more of an investment upfront, the payout is worth its weight in gold.

Who doesn’t want to have great kids?  Who would honestly say they want that bratty 5 year old who talks back to mom and dad all the time, and the 15 year old whose most used phrase is,’ whatever mom?’

No one wants that, yet most fail to prevent it.

Our nearsightedness is so dangerous.  We can fail to have a long term perspective on things that seem so unimportant today.  We can assume that ‘it’s just a phase,’ and ‘he’ll grow out of it,’ rather than admit that our children are sinful and in need of discipline and correction.

Mom and dad, you need to make a choice, and you need to make a conscious choice. Failure to think on these things is almost a guarantee that you will chose Path A, because Path B is the narrow road, and requires forethought.

You will still fail from time to time.  You will still miss opportunities to correct, you will say the wrong thing, you will over or under discipline at times…but you will have a target and you will know at what you are aiming.  And, by God’s grace, you will raise wonderful little people who turn into wonderful big people…isn’t that what every parent desires?  I know I do.