Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who Lives in Your House?

I love being a homeschooling mom! The time I get to spend with my three girls is priceless to me. But, as much as I love being with them, there are times when I'm just trying to survive the day and I can get bogged down with the short term vision of parenting. What's the short term vision of parenting? Any practice or method that makes life easier for me or is more convenient... such as lightening up on a discipline issue or letting a behavior or habit slide or not being persistent in training of a life skill. It's at those times, I really need to dig deep and remember the long term vision. These are not just kids living in my house that I need to manage moment-to-moment. These girls are someone's future wife and mom, and I better make sure they are prepared.

In our culture, parents spend a lot of time planning and investing in their kids academic and professional futures. If we provide the right access to some athletic training, maybe they will get a scholarship. If their grades are high enough, perhaps they will be accepted at the right college. If they are in enough extracurricular activities, they will be considered well-rounded by a future admissions board or employer. Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't be concerned about our kids' ability to sustain themselves and their future families financially. I'm not saying they should not be involved in different pursuits. I am pointing out, though, that we parents pile a lot of resources in those areas never wondering if they will be just as prepared to have a happy, healthy marriage or to be a great parent to our future grandchildren.

Let's face it. We have all heard that few people on their deathbed wish they had spent more time working on their job. Instead they think about their relationships...either remembering fondly or drowning in regret. Let's spend as much, if certainly not more, on preparing our kids for the most important earthly relationships they will have as we do on preparing them for a full time job.

How do we prepare them? Well, how are you doing in your marriage? You are their primary example. Would you wish a marriage like yours onto your kids? Well, that's where they are learning what to expect out of marriage. How do you treat your spouse? How is conflict resolved in your house? Does a serving attitude prevail or a selfish one? They should understand that having a great marriage takes work, so that they don't quit when it's not easy. They should understand that their spouse is their teammate, not their support staff. I recommend books such as The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I also have personally enjoyed anything by Elizabeth George -- A Woman After God's Own Heart, A Wife After God's Own Heart, A Mom After God's Own Heart, A Woman's Walk with God. These books will go a long way in giving you a vision of how great marriage can be and some tools on how to get there -- and they have way more useful info than Dr. Phil, Oprah, et al. I don't like to read... or you don't have time to read...or you only like fiction. Isn't the most important earthly relationship you have worth the time invested of getting to understand it better and maybe acquire some insight on how to improve it? If you already have a "good" marriage, don't you want a great one? Don't your kids deserve your efforts at making marriage a priority? What life skills will you be teaching them through your marriage? And, who says you have to devote hours each day reading marriage books? Just spend 15 minutes at a time in it. It will be worth it.

Now, we have the kids enrolled in our own little marriage workshop, preparing them to be great spouses by having front row seats to your wonderful marriage. {Side benefit to all this ("What's in it for me?") -- they will be better prepared to choose great spouses too (aka "in-laws).] Now we have to consider if we have done our job of preparing them to be parents. Again, I ask you how you are doing? Would you want them to treat your grandkids the way you treat your kids? Do you pour time into your kids ... your time ... or keep them so busy with other types of teachers that you don't have a chance to teach your values? Do you teach principles, in word and action and example, holding the bar high for your kids? Do you tolerate bad behavior issues because "it's hard" to be consistent or you are tired? Do you worry about being their friend now ... instead of being their parent? Do your kids know they are a priority or feel like they are a bother? I know that it is a lot of work to be a parent. It takes endurance and vigilance. But take your eyes off the daily grind and recognize that this season in your life is relatively short when considered in the context of your whole life. It will fly by before you know it. Be their parent now ... their friend when they are adults. When the foundation is right, you will get lots of parent-child friendship moments and memories. I recommend any of Dr. James Dobson's books, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad You and Your Kids! by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. (Please see previous paragraph for benefits of reading such books.)

One last tool, the most important, to help you is prayer! Pray when you are tired! Pray for the right words and wisdom! Pray for efforts to be rewarded! Pray that you are acting in accordance to God's will! Pray about everything surrounding your marriage, parenting, home, family! Scripture teaches us that He cares about every minute detail in our lives ... so invite Him in. He will help you in preparing your kids for the blessed life He has designed for them.
Now...if I could just my husband to recognize that his three girls will grow up, date and get married someday...

1 comment:

dean clouse said...

Hey Jeff, your girls are like mine--they will never grow up, they will never like boys, they will never date boys, they will never marry, and they will never leave their loving father! I am not in denial, this is just a fact of life. They won't leave us. Never. Oh please never. Sorry, gotta go. I just realized there is a boy that lives down the street that isn't afraid enough of me yet.