Oh that I could go back and do it again. I would make the choice to yell less, hug more and pray even more. There would be fewer expectations, more training and much more grace in my parenting. Going back is not an option but as a seasoned mother, I can move forward teaching and training those who are in the season of parenting young children.
Children are an immense blessing from the Lord, but sadly they are born with a will of their own and a bent towards that which is not good. In Psalm 51 the Psalmist says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.” Isn’t it lovely that God desired our faithfulness before we took our first breath? Only He knew we would fail in our efforts to be faithful. Nineteenth century Bishop J.C. Ryle, in his book The Duties of Parents, tells us to “Remember children are born with a decided bias towards evil, and therefore if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose wrong.” It is their nature to choose what is wrong, but sometimes it is our nature to give them too many choices and opportunities to do this.
Do you give your children too many choices? My daughter’s pediatrician called me out when I asked my then two-year old if she wanted to sit on the table to let him examine her. He asked me why I would give her the choice. If she needs to do something, don’t ask…tell her what you want her to do. From this gentle man I learned that there are certain times when we are to tell them what we expect, not give them a choice. For the important things they need to be directed and taught, not left to their own devices to choose, because on their own they don’t know what is good for them.
Being a parent is hard and a huge responsibility not to be taken lightly. Some would like to be permissive in this endeavor and allow their children to find themselves and discover their own limits. If we don’t teach them what limits and boundaries are they will not find good ones as they are prone to choose that which isn’t good. They will also choose to help themselves over helping others. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Parents, this is our job, our duty. We are to be the ones to train, teach and disciple our children when they are young and then release them to the Master Trainer, God, as they grow into adulthood.