The line was crossed a LONG time ago.
Before the world succeeds in leading you any further away from it, turn around and RUN back to that line. Don't pause; hurl yourself back across that line for the sake of your children (and by extension- you).
The line I'm talking about? Parent-led vs. child-led.
You know, letting the child tell or show their parents when they're ready for something instead of the parents deciding.
It actually sounds great- no bully parents forcing a child to do something he/she is not ready for.
And I agree. Parents should not be bullies and should not expect more from their children than what they are developmentally ready for.
But part of a parent's job is to determine when their child IS ready. If you follow the child's lead- they don't get what they're ready for or what they need, they get what they want.
For example, a toddler is full of emotion; emotion they don't understand. A parent could follow their child's lead and conclude that when their child screams it's because they're young and coddle them some more.
OR- as the parent they can teach their child not to scream and show by example or explanation (depending on the comprehension level of the child), what is being felt, how to control it, and what the best way to act is in such situations.
Or even simpler, how about this: bedtime.
It seems that the much of the growing generation is being raised by child-led parents. The effects are already seen.
Let's compare some examples.
Example 1- I just read a story about a mom and her six year old son. This six year old boy recently told his mom that he wanted to kiss boys. She wrote all about how she wouldn't damage his feelings by telling him that such things were sinful and he would rot in hell if he did. So many gay people are treated that way and they knew how they felt when they were that young. Can we imagine saying such hurtful things to a six year old?!?! Peace, love, tolerance people!...She also mentioned in passing how her son idolize a gay character on the popular show Glee.
..............................To which I say,
Sister. Aside from the fact that you let your six.year.old watch a show chock full of teen sex and all the filthiness and content he is exposed to from that (which he is developmentally NOT able to fully comprehend and understand thereby confusing the cheese and crackers right out of him and screwing up his future relationship potential)- aside from that, think for a minute what you're NOT teaching your son. You're not teaching him right from wrong, you're not teaching him how to think critically and analyze the thoughts that come through his mind, you're not teaching him that he can trust you to lead him down the most successful paths, you're not teaching him boundaries! (And I hope, but doubt, that parents know the value of boundaries...I think I'll post about that sometime, too.)
Example 2- Here I will share a personal example where I admit something and ask that you don't mock or think less of me because of this temptation I deal with.
I am a kleptomaniac. In the loosest sense of the word and only in thought, not in deed. As a child if I saw something I wanted, or that simply could be taken without notice, I would want to take it for my own. BUT, my parents have always taught and set the example that stealing is wrong and I am not to do it. I can honestly only think of one time in my young life where I did actually steal something. And when guilt finally got the best of me and I fessed up to my mom, she didn't shame me or tell me I'd rot in hell for my sin. She reiterated what she and my dad had already taught me and facilitated my return of the object. Plain and simple, yet so effective.
Even now, as I near 30, I still get those thoughts in my head (I could totally take that and not get caught). We're talking as large as grand theft auto here, people; this is not a passing, inconsequential temptation. Eternal thanks goes to my parents, though, because I have a deep-seeded understanding that stealing will not make me happy and it is strong enough to stand against those temptations.
Compare those two. One boy will most likely grow up to be someone who scorns my family and our belief in traditional family, perhaps going so far as to torment my children, spray paint my garage door with hate-speech, or worse. And this girl, once a potential thief, is now a solid community citizen who just wants her family to thrive in her care.
Parents, please step up and lead your children. It does make a difference.
Only part of your job as a parent is to love your child no matter what. The rest is to teach them, prepare them to face the world and come out happy (and by happy I don't mean "having received and experienced only what and everything that they wanted." I mean just that, happy; joyful even!).
Experience is what we have to offer to our children. After all, what- really- is the difference between parents and children? Time. As parents, we got here just a bit earlier than they did. In that time that we've been here we've learned and experienced and can turn around and offer that to our children when they get here.
As an experienced nuclear physicist, would you let a three year old tell you how to do your job? Only if you want to cause a massive, deadly explosion because all those buttons looked so colorful they just had to be pushed. Or perhaps have a fifteen year old girl teach your business college class on conflict resolution? Because getting all your friends to ignore and spread rumors about that colleague who criticized your latest report really is the best way to solve the issue, isn't it?
It doesn't make sense in those situations and it doesn't make sense in parent/child situations. The one with the knowledge and experience does the leading and the teaching, not the other way around.
As parents, we lead, show, tell, and teach our children because we know and understand better than they do.
Yes, take into consideration the child's age and ability to understand. Yes, be kind and gentle instead of forceful and cruel.
You can do that AND lead your children. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I am so thankful for my wonderful parents and for the hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat, tears, and love they put into setting me firmly on the best path. And I'm thankful for a Heavenly Father who blessed me with everything I need to be happy.
What are yoooou thankful for today???