I heard a very wise man say this. Someone had asked him what was one of the most important lessons he could share about how he raised his kids. He smiled and spoke those words. You should love your children, but not worship them. The message in that sentence is profound.
The end goal of parenting is to raise a child up to be a fully functioning, productive member of society. Well, that is what the goal should be and once was. It is not that way anymore for many. It seems these days that many people’s goal is to survive parenting by catering to the child’s every want. Notice I didn’t say need.
You know the kids I am talking about. They seem normal for a bit, but you notice that they are catered to. They are coddled. If the parent should dare to say no the child throws a fit to get their way and regain control. They are unruly and undisciplined. They may be good kids at heart, but it is hard to tell because there is so much chaos going on.
Then, you come across what seem to be miracle children. They are healthy and happy. They are respectful. They know how to say thank you and please. They get in trouble from time to time, but are eager to do good and be good. How is this possible? The parents love their children enough to teach them how they need to behave.
How could this be love though? Doesn’t love want them to have what they want? Doesn’t it want them to be happy all the time? No. Not really. Not all the time. Love wants to take care of their needs. It wants them to be healthy and well rounded people and guides them away from self destructive paths. Love doesn’t want to see them hurt, but knows that sometimes they must hurt to learn. Love knows they have to fail sometimes to really appreciate the view when they breakthrough and reach the top.
Recently my son, Trey, has gotten into the Pixar movie The Incredibles. There are tons of great lines buired in that film. One that stuck out to me happened when Mr and Mrs Incredible got into an argument over their son’s activities at school. She said, “You don’t even want to go to your own son’s graduation.” Mr Incredible replied, “He’s moving from the third grade to the fourth grade. This is psychotic. They keep thinking up new ways to celebrate mediocrity.”
In an effort to keep children from feeling bad, many people celebrate things that should not be celebrated. I have no idea if a third grade graduation is a good thing or not. However, I do know that by celebrating mediocrity you have a hard time encouraging excellence. If you tell a kid they are doing a good job when they’re really not, how is this productive? I’m not sure that it is.
Make no mistake, I love my son. He is one of the reasons that I get up and do everything I do during the day. There’s nothing better to hear that little boy laugh, see him smile, or have him run to me for a hug. I love it.
I want to give him every opportunity in life to succeed. And if that means I have to disappoint him by not giving him everything he may want, but giving him what he needs, I am going to. I have no doubt he will get many things that he wants, because they will be good things. He will know his daddy loves him, but he will also know that life is about more than just him.