Just the Way Families Are

James and Mom

I have been mulling today. For good or not, Facebook gives a glimpse into people’s lives. And today I was pondering how raising children has changed but still stays the same.

I think the biggest change from my parents’ generation is the decrease in corporal punishment. My children’s generation who are in their mid- to late-thirties believe spanking is not the primary form of discipline. And to a great extent, I agree with them. I believe the most important characteristic of valuable discipline is consistency & judiciousness, meaning – make sure the consequence fits the “crime” and be consistent in handling repeat offenses, no matter how tired you (the parents) are.

James April 2004Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is a parent’s inability to recognize when their children are grown and should be treated with the same respect we give any adult. Instead we give unsolicited advice on their marriage and child-rearing while we would never consider being so rude to a co-worker or neighbor. And how often do we speak words of encouragement to our children regarding their employment achievements or ask, with genuine adult interest, “How is work going?” Do we understand that our “child” is now a teacher, in charge of educating the next generation? Do we see them as managers of 10 – 50 people or police officers responsible to serve and protect our community? Or do we make un-thinking remarks about their housekeeping, child-rearing or personal choice in hairstyle and off-duty fashion choices? They are GROWN!

Parenting is never easy and, yes my children will always be my children, but just as they are growing and evolving so should I, their parent, grow and evolve into listening more and talking less.

Families are a microcosm of our convoluted, and often emotionally challenging, world. The very unconditional love that we should have for each other, too often becomes very conditional, and communication and interaction becomes sporadic and rarely touches below the surface. Principles of common politeness and respect, Christian courtesy and love with which we apply to strangers we meet on a daily basis are foreign in our family relationships.

Prayer may seem trite and a default solution but I believe, and know from experience, it is the best solution. Presenting myself and offering prayers for my children and my relationship with them is an active and beneficial plan of action. Who better to seek

advice from than my Heavenly Father, who is perfect in His dealings with His children?

Begin by opening the book of Proverbs and see what God will say to you today about your relationship with your children. It’s a wise place to start.

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