Dear Friends, It’s almost our day, the day to celebrate ALL who mother! (Which means every woman I know.) Today, I have a gift for those mothering and grandmothering——I am offering one beautiful freeing truth, (and 10 books.)
How do I dare to give mothering advice? Because I’ve been through the mill, the flood, the fire and the storm with my six kids, and we have all emerged on the other side. (Here, photos from the last 3 weddings, all in the last 8 months. Proof that we’ve all survived——intact and loving each other!
(No, we’re not perfect. We’ve been through a ton of stuff—just like your family.) And——we only dress up for weddings. Here’s our more usual garb:
Here’s the problem. Listen to these words from a teacher I met last year:
"I have a little girl in my classroom who never obeys me. It's a huge problem. So I called in her parents and told them about her disruptive behavior. They looked at me blankly for a moment, then said, 'We never tell her no. Your rules aren't important. Our daughter's happiness is more important than your rules!'
Then they left. I’ve heard the same story from youth pastors, from other teachers, from all around us--and I know you have too. Scary stuff!
Most American parents say, “We just want our kids to be happy.”
How many times do we hear this? Especially now in relation to sexual identity. (Your 6 year old daughter says she’d be happier as a boy? Let’s consider hormone therapy. Whatever she needs to be happy!)
We see it on nearly every front. Kids 8 – 18 now spend an average of 7 hours a day on electronic gadgets---because we let them----leading to obesity, mental illness, Addiction, aggression and more, according to experts.
Many of us go into debt for our children, providing lavish birthday parties and exotic vacations. We fix the foods our children clamor for instead of what they need, while childhood obesity rates soar. We don’t allow our kids to fail. We don’t allow their sports teams to lose. We threaten our kids’ teachers with a lawsuit when our (lazy) students flunk a class. Keeping our kids "happy" is exhausting--for everyone. Even them.
Here’s the truth: Our job as parents is not to make our children happy, but to help them become “good: ” compassionate, honest, responsible, hard-working, kind. Trying to procure our children’s happiness is like trying to catch a river with a sieve. We need to do for our children what they cannot do for themselves: distinguish between their short-term happiness and their long-term good. What is that long-term good? It’s the same as the way God parents us: for our growth, goodness and holiness rather than our immediate happiness. But of course it’s not an either/or. Ultimately, goodness and Holiness IS the way to happiness.
How do we get there? A few suggestions: Give your kids meaningful work to do. Real work that takes time and muscle. Do hard things yourself and enable them to do hard things as well. Model compassion. Require perseverance. Delay gratification at times. Discipline them when needed. Love them always.
If we make life too easy for our children, they’ll fall.
My sister-in-law planted a Japanese maple in her yard one year. Because she lives on a windy, stormy island, she staked it out so it had full support against the winds. But it began to sag. By the third year, it completely collapsed. The nursery owner from whom she had bought the tree told her, “The tree is too protected. It needs the wind to strengthen its fibers. It needs the wind to make it strong.”
Do any of us want our children to topple? Don’t we want them to be like the tree in Psalm 1, firmly rooted in the banks of a gushing, living stream? These gorgeous trees yield bright, bursting fruit through every season of its life.
I pray that we can love our children enough to parent them toward THIS kind of happiness!
And we can.
I’m giving 10 books away this week! Five parenting books (which just may save your life as a mother!) AND—five of The Wonder Years: Forty Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty and Strength. I'll do it the usual way. For everyone who shares this post on their social media, please let me know below----and I'll enter your name in the drawing. And DO leave your email as well so I can get ahold of you!!
(Sorry—-Offer only good in the U.S. )
Thank you!! I am so excited at the freedom God can bring to us as we love and raise our children! AND the freedom that comes to us as we sail over that 40 mark . .!)
with Love to you all,