Some of the biggest mistakes we make as parents comes from a mindset.
We consider something to be a pain in the rear (a crying baby, a tired five year old), and we act accordingly…then we are surprised when junior (as a teen) behaves like one.
We see a stage as something to endure (think “terrible twos”), rather than grow through and mature ourselves in the process, and we are amazed when junior treats us as though he can hardly endure a meal at the dinner table with us (as a teenager).
Folks, this ought not to be. And there is a sure way to avoid this wrongful mindset.
It is purely by always keeping an eye to the future.
Junior WILL learn to sleep through the night, not spew his carrots by blowing raspberries, not mess in his diaper. But as we go through these stages, we must remember that these young years are meant for training them up and giving us time to refine ourselves and our character issues. Use this time wisely before the children are really old enough to detect our faults and challenges in our character and emulate them…or more embarrassingly, label us as hypocrites.
In the first 6-8 years, we must establish in their minds that we have their best interests at heart, and that our words have weight and we should be loved and reverenced as parents. If not, we play a catch up game afterwards of trying to earn their respect and ultimately loosing the impact of our words, opinions, and wisdom.
I have to chuckle inside when a mother tells me she CAN’T get her three year old to sit down in the tub (or pick any simple request: sit in the shopping cart, wear a dress for church, clean the room–at any age really) and I think to myself, “Who’s the stinkin’ boss?” How big is your three year old, five year old, seven year old? Because if you can not get them to obey you now when you clearly have the upper hand size wise and in wisdom and authority, how will that be when they are 13, 15, 17 years old?
And that is why parenting with the future always in mind is what will help you make wise decisions now. It is what will give you the gumption to stick to your guns! I once knew an older brother who was put in charge of teaching his younger brother to speak English. These two young boys were growing up in a country without much hope for a future unless they readied themselves for the remote possibility of receiving an education outside their own country. This younger brother (gifted beyond measure with a musical talent) dug his heels in and was obstinate. The older brother resorted to whatever it took to get the younger to continue learning English. Darn good thing too.
The younger brother now speaks perfect English and is attending the Royal College of Music in London and playing his violin all over the world. The older brother (probably in part due to his obstinate desire for and ability to make a difference) by the hand of God was given the opportunity to not only finish high school in America, but received a first class undergraduate degree and a top notch Law degree.
Neither of these boys could have known what an opportunity speaking the English language would afford them, but a hopeful eye to the future (against all odds) is what gave the older brother the gumption to stick it out when the younger sibling decided to be testy.
I have known MANY parents who have less guts and “stick-to-itivity” than this brother as a young teenager trying to influence his baby brother. If every parent had this kind of mindset, our society would look completely different. As different and amazing as the lives of these two young men.