Monday, November 25, 2013

His Best Friend

He was so angry at me.

The hot tears spilled from his eyes and down his red cheeks, and he angrily swiped at them with the back of his hand. 

Then he glared at me. 'I DON'T want to wear this COAT' he said, his voice unsteady and broken.

I tried my best to explain to him that because it's 30 degrees outside, a coat is actually a good choice, especially when one chooses to wear shorts and a tee shirt underneath. How he isn't freezing most days is beyond me. He's refusing to let summer go, I guess. 

'I love you' I told him as he slammed the door behind him, not looking back. 

I definitely did not see this coming so soon.

I turned to a wise friend for counsel. I was sad that he was so angry at me, but even more, I was frustrated at his unreasonable reaction. I was only trying to keep him safe, warm and protected. 

"His reaction to your good parenting is out of your control."

It was exactly what I needed to hear. 

Sometimes, in order to keep the peace and make everyone happy, I think I'm tempted to be my children's friend first and parent second. Sometimes it's hard to know that what you are about to do, the consequence you as the parent are about to enforce, or the decision you are about to make is not going to be the popular one. And not only will it not be the popular one, it is going to make someone upset with you. Maybe even so mad that they walk out of the house without looking back, tears streaming down their face.

My role as a parent is not to be my child's friend. It is to be their parent. To teach them how to grow up to be responsible, mature adults who make good decisions. It's not easy. And there are times when it's certainly not fun, or pleasant, or anything remotely close to having a good time.

It's easy for me to look at other parents and judge them, sometimes harshly, for the decisions they make. But I don't know the situation they are facing, and it's probably different from mine. There was a situation in the paper a few years ago, and some in my community were outraged. I don't remember all the details, but a mother had allowed her teenager to have a party in her house where there was heavy drinking, and several teens were passed out on the front lawn of this woman's house, and all the while she was there. It seemed at the very least incredibly irresponsible, and at the time I remember thinking 'I would NEVER do that.' I don't know this woman's situation. I don't even know her name. But to me, she was trying to be her teenager's best friends instead of making a responsible parenting choice. It seems pretty simple, pretty black and white. But as I think about it while I'm sitting here, maybe she didn't have wise friend to turn to when her son didn't want to wear his coat to school.

'It takes a village to raise a child.'

We've all heard that line before, haven't we? And it is so true. As parents, it's important to have a firm support system in place when things get tough. We need to be able to lean on each other when the going gets tough.

Long after the coat incident had passed, he was singing his little heart out to Sean Kingston's song "Fire Burning" (don't judge, it came on Pandora, and they heard it first at the skate center anyway), but instead of shawty dancing her booty off on the dance floor, his version went like this:

Somebody call 911!
Johnny's fire burning on the dance floor, whoa

 
And you know what? He didn't even know he was singing the wrong lyrics.
 
I'm so thankful for this child who challenges me, who makes me laugh until I cry, who steals my heart everyday with his sense of humor and his sparkling smile.

 
[Parents], do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
{ephesians 6:4}

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