Perceptive Parenting

by Chaplain (CPT) Michael L. White
A little boy and his parents went to a restaurant. When the waitress took each order in turn, she at last came to the boy and asked,

"Now, what will you be having?"

The little boy ordered with zeal. "I'll have a hotdog with the works!"

His mother interrupted and said, "He'll have a hamburger with ketchup and mayo." The waitress ignored his mother and continued,

"And what would you like to go with your hotdog?"

"French fries!" the boy said excitedly.

"Okay, and what would you like to drink, sir?" the waitress asked.

"A Coke!" the boy exclaimed. His mother interrupted again, and said,

"He'll have milk." Once more, the waitress ignored his mother and said,

"All right, that's one hotdog with the works, one side order of fries, and one Coke coming right up!"

As the waitress walked away and the parents stared in disbelief, the boy said with surprise,

"Mommy! She thinks I'm real!"

There are few things in life more dignifying than acknowledgment. While parental authority is certainly important in a child's life, sometimes we parents just need to acknowledge our children's thoughts, feelings, and abilities, not to mention their personhood. I don't profess to be a shining example of perfect parenthood, but perhaps I've learned enough from my many mistakes in parenting to offer a few simple words of insight.

In those matters which are within our children's range of maturity, we need to trust them to make their own decisions based on the values which we have already taught them. Moreover, we need to allow them to make some mistakes and even grant them permission to fail on occasion. In fact, we often learn more from our mistakes and failures in life than from the best-taught lessons! On the other hand, there's nothing like experiencing the thrill of success to teach the value of certain choices. How else will our children learn responsibility, independence, and decision-making skills if we don't permit them the freedom to make some choices in life? The alternative is to strictly control everything in their lives until one day they either rebel and desert us or they never find the courage and self-assurance to leave home and so remain dependent on us for the rest of their lives! That may be fine for some, but not for me!

I don't know about you, but my aim as a parent is to raise up my children to such a level of maturity and responsibility that one day they won't be dependent on me any longer, although I certainly wouldn't reject an occasional request for my advice. At ages 13 and 10, my children are already over half way to adulthood. I have only a few more years to accomplish all I can in their upbringing! That's both exciting and saddening, for I will certainly miss having them around the house once they're gone! Like Captain Von Trapp's statement in the movie The Sound of Music, I will miss all the noise they make in the mornings telling each other to be quiet! Indeed, my house may then be too quiet! Somehow, though, I believe God will help us through that necessary transition in life.

What about you? Does God have any input in your life or in your parenting? Seek His counsel daily. His wisdom far exceeds all expectations.