Every morning my children follow the same routine. Our routine allows my six children to move like a well-oiled machine as they get ready for school. We have the routine nearly perfected and it works well for us.
However, today our well-oiled machine was not running smoothly at all. Somebody must have forgotten to lubricate the ‘routine machine’ this morning. Two of the six children were not having a good morning. Those two and their not-so-good morning put a kink in the function of our ‘routine machine.’
One of the most important things an operator can do for his machinery is to make sure it is properly lubricated. So what is a lubricant and how does it affect operations when used properly? Basically, a machine needs to be lubricated so that it can prevent friction and allow moving machine parts to slide past one another more smoothly.
Our ‘routine machine’ was showing signs of friction. There were parts that were broken and pieces falling off. The machine almost came to a complete halt, but it managed to chug along until we were all in the Suburban for the seven-minute ride to school. It is at this time we pray before we go. After the prayer is when the friction started within the machine.
My son realized he had forgotten to grab his homework. However, he did remember that if you forget your homework that you will miss the first recess of the day. To a nine-year-old boy who loves to play outside, this seems like complete torture. It hit him hard.
He requested that I go back home and bring in his homework. I kindly declined, which is apparently when the lube ran out and the friction began. Tears, grumpy attitude, and a maligned heart was the set tone at that moment.
His pleas for me to “just bring it in” were met with a resounding “no” each time he asked. I could see that his little heart was broken.
A few years ago I probably would have driven him home to get his homework just so he would not miss recess. Not today. The look on his face as he exited the vehicle and began the walk into the school was not easy to view as a mother.
However, I was standing firm. Formerly, I subscribed to the thought of ‘choosing my battles’ when it came to my children. However, that sort of thinking does nothing but enable them.
I knew that my son was going to have to learn a lesson. For him, it would be a painful lesson. One where he was alienated from his friends and I knew he would feel that pain all morning while at school. And as much as it pains me to see my children hurting, I care more about their eternal lives than I do any earthly pleasures.
Enabling children does not teach them responsibility. Not wanting to see our children upset or trying to prevent future disappointment by protecting their feelings does not do them any favor in the long run. When we enable our children, even unknowingly, it can create a selfish heart. If they have every desire met and not being allowed to fail, fall flat on their faces, or deal with consequences of their failures; how will that help your child?
We must allow them to fail, get hurt, cry, get upset, and pick themselves back up. Children will learn from their mistakes.
My husband is fond of saying “you’ll only do it once” and “the best lessons we learn are from our greatest failures.”
Learning to Struggle with Success and Failure
The Bible says in Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. ” As a parent, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children will have proper consequences for their actions.
In this case, the discipline for my son was allowing him to miss recess because he did not remember his homework. However, different actions or issues warrant different types of discipline. Missing recess was a great way for my son to learn a lesson. The punishment fit the crime.
Children are our greatest inheritance and blessings from the Lord. Someday we will be held accountable for how we have raised them. It is up to us as parents to shape the will of their hearts. Often shaping the will of a child’s heart involves letting them fail and struggling.
A child will learn cause and effect through success and failure. It is part of a necessary maturing process. If we intervening it can interrupt that process.
Kids can’t become responsible adults without making mistakes and failing. If we do all the coping for our children they will never learn how to handle situations as they mature because they lack the confidence.
To survive in this world, our kids need to know how to struggle. They need to learn how to persevere for a victory and how to handle disappointment when victory doesn’t come. They need to understand that they reap what they sow and that life isn’t always fair. In fact, life is not fair most of the time.
It is not the parent’s job is not to make sure that a child has a smooth or comfortable life. Our role is to help keep them safe they’re young to keep them from harm; to gradually widen those safeguards as they mature; and to help them to grow into the person God wants them to be.
My son came home today with a changed heart and a humble attitude. He was seeking forgiveness and I believed he learned his lesson. Even though this time the lesson was simple, giving him responsibility, and allowing him to shoulder the consequences will have a long-lasting impact on him.
Stephanie, Training Keepers of the Home