aSometimes I think I’m the luckiest mom in the world. I have the greatest children! It’s a joy and a privilege to spend time with them. I feel bad for moms whose greatest wish is for their children to get old enough to go to school, for summer to be over and school to start, for them to be old enough to take care of themselves. Those moms are missing out! I hear it all around me all the time, especially in the summer: “I canNOT wait for school to be back in session. I can not take another week of this child!” It’s hard to go and sit at the park while the boys play contentedly and listen to the moms around me grumble. But it’s also no surprise. I mean, I wouldn’t want to spend days on end with some of their children either! Good heavens. Sadly, most of them don’t realize that they have no one to blame but themselves.
The last time we were at the park, I watched as two moms interacted with their children. One mom had a boy, about 5, and a girl, about 3. The girl was throwing sand. The mom probably said 15 times “Please stop throwing sand.” The little boy got in on the action, and there was sand flying everywhere. By now the mom was quite frazzled and the pitch of her voice had gone up an octave or two. “Please. Stop. Throwing. Sand. Now.” she said. They kept on. She threatened to take away their toys. The little boy threw them at her. She stomped off, angry. The situation continued to escalate. Through it all, my twosome watched with huge eyes. At one point, one of them looked at me and said, “Mom? When is she going to DO something instead of just yelling?” Wise child. But then…he knows. This mom doesn’t ask multiple times. She doesn’t threaten. She asks quietly and politely, and expects compliance. She follows through immediately with consequences for inappropriate behavior. And at 6, they are a delight to be around, and I can’t think of a single place I would be concerned about taking them. Even the one who makes me crazy sometimes with his 1,000 questions and his short attention span and his sensory issues and his incessant need to be in the middle of everything and every conversation? Yep. He’s a delight to be around, and definitely knows how to behave.
The second mom had 3 young boys, probably 8, 5, and 2. The 2 year old was being 2—pestering his big brothers as they played in the sand. The 8 year old kept whining at him. The mom told him 5 or 6 times that if he didn’t stop whining, they would go home. (Her voice was incredibly whiny.) He kept whining. The 2 year old kept pushing his buttons. You could see that it was deliberate…the look on his face was very clear. He knew exactly what was going on. The mom finally lost it, grabbed the 8 year old by his arm, and marched him off the beach, berating him for his display of attitude. I kept wondering when she was going to realize that he was only mimicking what was being modeled for him.
With children who behave like that, it’s no wonder that moms are thrilled to see summer vacation come to an end. Even toddlers can be taught to obey. It’s a matter of consistency. Meaning what you say, and being willing to follow through with consequences if they choose to ‘blow you off.’ It’s hard. It requires being willing to take action. To be thoughtful. And proactive. It’s definitely not for everyone. It is, after all, far simpler to gripe about how ‘busy’ and ‘active’ your children are. To complain about the fact that they are in to ‘everything’ and you must spend every minute watching and chasing them. Look in the mirror!! You have trained them that way. Have taught them that their behavior is acceptable. They learn SO FAST that they don’t have to obey until Mom turns purple and there is smoke coming out her ears. It’s hard to undo that teaching.
Frustrated, misbehaving children. Frustrated, irritated, (angry?) moms. Is it any wonder that scripture states clearly, in 2 different places, these verses? Or that they go together?? It’s fairly clear if you read Ephesians 6:1-4 or Colossians 3:20-21. They both say
Children, obey your parents…fathers, do not exasperate your children.
Why do children need to obey their parents? Because learning to obey Mom and Dad is the precursor…and practice…for obeying God. That’s the goal—obeying God! So why aren’t parents supposed to exasperate their children? Imagine how difficult it is to obey when parents don’t know what they want!! Or at least don’t make their expectations clear. Oy!
Am I perfect? Heavens NO!! Are my children? Absolutely not!! They misbehave. I yell. We have frustrating days. We also have wonderful fun days, and it’s the greatest privilege in the world to be their mom. And their teacher. I love love LOVE having them home with me day in and day out. Seeing them learn. Watching them grow. Someday they will go to school. And I will be both happy and sad. Happy, because I know that they will love it, and that they will be wonderful additions to a classroom. And sad, because I will miss them terribly.
(Please note: this is NOT directed at anyone in particular. It is simply something I see over and over and over, and decided it was time to write about it.)