Love & Security
By Malissa Custer
All humans need love. It is part of how we are made. Love and boundaries create security. Order and peace create confidence. One of our biggest goals in parenting should be to produce adults who are well-rounded, can succeed in almost any situation, and can adapt to and work with all kinds of different people. I used to think there was a huge gulf between parenting a two-year old and parenting a young adult, but realistically the principles are the same, and you can mold a two-year old much easier. What does loving them have to do with making them well-rounded? Well, everything. Making a child well-rounded means challenging their God-given personality and putting pressure on them to change and grow. If a child is feeling unloved or insecure, that sort of pressure will crush their little spirit even more. We, as parents, should not just be managing the chaos of our home, but digging much deeper, to know who these little ones are as individuals, and challenging them to make them their best.
You must control the chaos. This is one of your most important jobs as Mom: “Chaos Controller to the Rescue.” It is your full-time job! If you are failing at it, you likely don’t even know what a difference order would make in the atmosphere of your home. It should be your focus, right there in front of your mind. Here is a common example: laundry is out of control, and you need to get everyone dressed to leave the house. Johnny doesn’t have any clean pants in his drawer, and the baby doesn’t have any socks. Sally is missing her shirt that goes with her skirt, and she REALLLLY wanted to wear that outfit! So, down to the laundry abyss you go, to dig around to piece something together that will either be dirty or wrinkled. You can’t find Sally’s shirt, so she empties her entire drawer to find something different that may work. You are now late to wherever you were going, so you skip breakfast and rush out the door, trying not to lose your cool. You then have to apologize for being late, when you get to your destination. You feel annoyed at your children, because they didn’t get their shoes on quick enough, when in reality you should be annoyed with yourself. This whole scenario is your fault. It does not have to be this way.
Here is the flip side: You stayed up late, getting the laundry done, and one of the children’s chores is to put it in the right drawer. You keep their outfits together, so that they can easily dress themselves and look sharp, clean and “put together.” When the time comes to leave, clothing is not an issue. Because they dressed themselves, you have time to brush their hair, and make it look presentable. They are able to eat a small, healthy breakfast quickly, instead of the fast food drive-through, because you know every day they will need breakfast- so you are prepared. You can handle an unexpected smell without being too late, because all the things you can control you do. You know your children’s capabilities, and have assigned them responsibilities accordingly. One child is responsible for making sure there are diapers in the baby bag, and the other is responsible for bringing it to the car. Because everything is not frantic, your oldest decides to run upstairs and grab a book, so she can read while at the appointment. You are able to put makeup on, because you are not in the basement digging for socks. You feel better. You don’t feel impatient and stressed. You don’t yell at them for not putting their shoes on fast enough. You get to the place you are going on time enough to tell the children what is expected of them. (“Be polite. Respond when an adult talks to you. Look them in the eyes. No running. No fighting. If I’m talking, none of you should be.”) Do you see the difference? That is what we should be striving for. I’m using this situation, because we’ve all been on both sides of it, but the chaos v. calm happens in every scenario of parenting. You have to choose every time, and most times it costs you something. A lot of times it costs you sleep, which is already lacking. Sometimes it costs you socially, which should be easier to give up.
I dare say, though, that if I asked any mom if she would trade sleep to gain a child who is well- taught, respectful, and reaching their maximum potential, they would all chose to be tired. I would! How does all of this affect your child’s “love level” or confidence? In one scenario, you enter the dentist’s office, and have rushed them in. They don’t know what you want from them, and so they do what comes naturally, which is often to be shy– which is rude – so you scold them hard. They also start poking each other in the face- because it is so funny- which means you can’t hear what the receptionist is saying, which earns them a “stink eye” and another scolding. Instead of helping to keep the baby quiet, they are in their own little world, only to be jerked out of it by Mean Mom. That makes them feel bad. That makes them feel confused. It certainly doesn’t portray love. The other scenario cultivates security, because they know their jobs and do them (most of the time); responsibility, because they remember and act (most of the time); and confidence, because they know how to act in this social situation (most of the time).
I am never going to be perfect, and I’ve had the bad scenario happen enough times to do everything in my power to avoid it, but it will still happen some. The goal is to have it happen far less than the good scenario. I have to be in control of myself and of my house, in order to please the Lord. I need to know who my children are, and teach them, if I want them to grow up to please the Lord. I need to strive for that. The goal is no regrets.
By Barbara Russell
When I was a teenager, I didn’t always agree with my parent’s methods or decisions, but one thing I learned: I was to honor them, anyway. My dad’s philosophy was, “As long as you live under my roof, you will respect me, and do as I say in my house.” As harsh or unreasonable as I may have perceived his decisions to be at times, I always knew he loved me, and that his decisions were made according to what he believed God wanted him to do.
There was no rolling of the eyes, clicking the tongue, stomping out of the room, slamming doors, or walking away from him while he was talking; no sassing or jerking away from him. Only ONCE did I even try such a thing! I was at the sink washing dishes, stewing over a decision he had made, when he came up behind me and gently placed his hand on my shoulder. I yanked my shoulder from his hand. He swatted my behind, and strongly stated, “Young Lady! You may not agree with my decisions, but you WILL respect me!”
One attitude my husband and I tried to continue to instill in our children when they became teenagers, was respect. Ephesians 6:2a says, “Honor thy father and mother” To honor parents means to accept their authority and to treat them with respect.
Although we expected our teenagers to show respect, we also endeavored to be respectable parents. I didn’t want to be the type of parent I once heard say to his son, “I better never catch you smoking” as he himself was puffing on a cigarette! Or a mom yelling at her teenager, “Don’t you raise your voice at me!” or slapping them and yelling, “Don’t hit your sister!” I thought, ”Dear Lord, please don’t let me be so blind!”
As a wife, I first had to learn how to honor my husband. No matter how unreasonable I perceived my husband’s decisions, methods, or attitude to be, I was to respect him. Belittling him with my actions or words was not going to teach my teenagers how to respect their parents!
One of the things we appreciated about our pastor was that he never counseled our teenager to be against us. He always directed them to God’s Word, and encouraged them to follow our instruction. To us, that was good godly counsel, because although we knew we may not always make the right decisions, our teenager was given the counsel to obey and honor their parents (And little did they know how often their dad would talk with the pastor to get good, godly counsel from him).
We tried to allow our teenagers to grow up and to make their own decisions, and to not continually treat them like children. They were given freedoms when they proved they could be responsible, but we were still their parents. They were to ask our permission for what they wanted to do and the places they wanted to go. We always knew where they were and what time they would be home. If they could not keep up with their school work, they couldn’t work a job. If they had a job and were not allowed to get off work for Family camp, teen camp or church services then we had them put in their 2 week notice. We believed that as long as they were teenagers, we took care of them. We wanted them to learn that money was not more important than the things of God.
It was a constant mental battle trying to keep a balance between allowing our teenagers to make their own decisions, and us fulfilling our parental responsibilities. We believed that if there was a time when our children could be more susceptible to making poor, life changing decisions, it would be when they were teenagers. We didn’t want to be selfish, unavailable parents when our children needed us most. At the same time, we didn’t want to be so controlling and demanding that we produced immature, indecisive adults. We prayed often during these years for God’s wisdom and continued to seek godly counsel.
Our teenagers had their share of problems, and they did not always agree with our decisions, but I must say, a lack of respect was not one of their problems. We followed Biblical instruction when our children were young and on into their teen years, and accepted pastoral and godly counsel; and we reaped the reward! I share this, not to boast of our parenting abilities, but to declare that God’s way works! This verse never gets old, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) I know children have a free will, but when they left our home, I never blamed God if they made wrong choices. I just assumed I must have missed something in their training, because God’s way is never wrong!!