As parents, we often are so busy getting our kids to places on time and telling them to behave a certain way when they get there. To be really honest, our kids sometimes take the brunt of our own expectations, schedules and priorities.
We need to step back, take a breath, and realize our kids aren’t always – and shouldn’t always be on our schedule. Sometimes we need to allow them to dictate our schedules and our method of parenting.
Here is what I mean:
Winn Collier told the story that one morning while his wife was away, he was enjoying a quiet moment over his morning coffee when he heard his two boys coming downstairs. He gave them breakfast and then the get ready for school madness began. He began to shout out instructions and give commands like a Marine sergeant.
You know the drill:
brush your teeth...
tie your shoes...
get your backpack...
In the midst of the hurry to get them to school on time, he said his one son went into the coat rack and was hiding amidst all of the coats, scarves and hats. He was trying not to breathe or make a sound. Despite his best efforts, his dad found him. Winn said he didn’t laugh. Rather he ushered him out the door into the car and onto school to make sure they weren’t late; so he then could get back home and leave for work on time.
On the way to school, his son, Wyatt commented to his dad that he didn’t laugh – didn’t even break into a semi-smile. He says late how he wished he had laughed. He wished he had entered into his boyish antics and had some fun with it so his son could have experienced the joy he needed in that moment. Winn admits this was far more important than barking out orders to make sure his two boys got to school on time. The bible reminds parents to discipline their children. But it also reminds them to help their children experience joy. Discipline means to teach and train, especially in the areas of morals, ethics, respect, diligence and loving God. It doesn’t mean to suck the joy and fun out of life and our children.
As we parent, we need to observe (and this means we have to take the time to build relationships with our kids) what they enjoy and what brings laughter and life to their hearts. When we see them experiencing these things, we need to enter into these moments with them. This will probably bring joy to our hearts as well – but most importantly, it will help them develop a kind heart.
Rules without relationships equal nothing more than kids following the rules while their hearts may be very far from both their parents and the joy of doing what is right. Even worse, they will equate rules with God rather than joy with God. In the end, our kids will develop a deep and abiding faith in God for themselves only when they equate that God the Father is a father who delights in them and laughs with them. For them to make this connection, it begins with us as parents enjoying our children when they are experiencing moments of joy!