This is a repost. Originally posted in September 2019.
Since we traveled through almost 20 states this past summer, I had ample opportunities to witness countless parenting situations. Some of them were awe-inspiring and note-worthy and others were… just painful to observe (But since I was with my family and knew they would not appreciate it if I tried to step in and say, “Hi, I really want to help you out right now…” I didn’t. Probably a good idea all around.).
In terms of how we parent, are we helping or hurting our children as future adults?
Anyhow, this one particular incident really had me rattled. Picture this scene: We were at this small, overcrowded public pool in Mississippi (where I could only tell that I was out of the water by looking because it was seriously so humid I felt I was always underwater – Remember, we live in the desert – but I digress), and this teenage lifeguard up in his stand is taking his job quite seriously and is blowing his whistle to remind kids in the pool “NO DUNKING” and blowing his whistle to tell kids who are running around the pool “NO RUNNING!”
Now, even though I would much rather hear him telling the kids what TO do (Think: “Hands off!” and “Please walk!”) I am pretty sure that these have been the standing rules since public swimming pools entered the scene. Cause, you know, SAFETY. I mean, come on people, it’s wet. It’s slippery (or “slippy” if you’re from western Pennsylvania). And no one wants to see a kid fall, crack his head open, and bleed all over the pool deck – am I right?!
So this Mom stomps over to the stand, looks up arrogantly at the lifeguard (the teenage lifeguard, remember) and pointing her finger at a kid, shouts up at the lifeguard, “Hey! That’s my kid and I don’t appreciate you telling him what to do! You tell me and I will decide if he needs correction. Not. You.”
The lifeguard (did I mention he was a teenager?) tried to explain he was just doing his job, but this mom was not having it. Again, she said since this was her son only she could tell him what to do. And then she stomped away. It’s like there is a strange fear attacking some parents. They seem to (mistakenly) believe that they are the only authority their child has – or worse – that no one has authority over their children.
Do you get that if YOU are the only one who can tell your child what to do, they will have completely unrealistic expectations of the world? What, they don’t have to listen to their teachers? Their coaches? Their bosses? EVERYONE has authority in their life! For Christ-followers, it’s Him ultimately, but there are still earthly authorities. How about the police? What would happen if we all just stopped obeying traffic laws and speed limits? Is your kid going to say, “Sorry officer, but I don’t have to listen to you?” What will happen when they get a job? Will they not do what their boss tells them to do?
Now, I hope you are thinking, “That is ridiculous! I would never do that to my child.”
But, maybe you are and don’t even recognize it.
John Piper wrote an article some years ago that I highly encourage you to read (Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children). Basically, he explains that when we don’t require first-time obedience of our children, we are setting them up for failure. Like, huge failure….maybe even to be fatally wounded if someone in authority says, “STOP!” and your child does not – because, after all, he’s YOUR child and only you can tell him what to do…..See the huge problem with this?
At Connect Point Moms, we always say that you can only give from what you have. Well, maybe you had the misfortune of being pushed around as a kid and, tragically no one stuck up for you. If so, I am very sorry for that. That is a painful situation with which to live. But please realize that if that you are now going to make sure that “No one is going to do that to MY kid” you are only setting them up for failure and not success. It would be better to teach them wisdom and discernment: “Is this person of authority trying to help keep me safe or harm me?”
This starts with you, Moms. No matter what you’ve lived through, you can do it differently with your kids. I can help!
Check out this live mini-training for THREE steps to improving this situation in your home!:
Kate Fraiser is a Parent Coach with Connect Point Moms helping you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick and helpful parenting videos, find her on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.