Monday, July 2, 2012

Parenting Extremes

After church, our family visited a local pizza joint. It's a small place frequented by families in the area. I got a front-row seat to two extreme parenting styles. It made me lose my appetite.

I-phone parenting: At one table, we had two parents whose noses were in their I-phones. Their oldest son (who was probably 5) was running around the restaurant causing havoc. He was destroying restaurant property, going behind the bar, into the kitchen, trying to go out of the door, scribbling all over everything with crayons, going to different tables to looking at what people were eating. I had my back to the buffet, so Lord only knows what he was doing to the food there. (One reason I refuse to eat at a buffet). Their youngest child was in a child seat spilling his drink on the floor as the parents did nothing to stop him. Then the mother said to the youngest child (who was maybe 2), "You want to be free too?" and proceeded to turn him lose on the guests. I am sure my mouth was hanging open at this point. The parents sat at the table playing on their phones as their children ran wild in the restaurant. They were disturbing the restaurant guests and causing problems for the staff. The mother laughed and made excuses for her children when their behavior was awful. They never corrected their children when they clearly needed it. It made me want to shake these parents.

Martyr Mom: At another table, we had two parents with two children (probably 2 and 8). The mother's bottom never touched the seat. She hovered over her children serving them, cleaning them, giving them something to drink. The mother looked exhausted. Her hair hadn't seen a brush that day and looked like she didn't care about herself. I wanted to just give her a hug and some direction.

Both of these parenting styles, while they seem completely opposite, are in fact both "child worship" with the exact same sad outcome to their children. The first set of parents don't want to upset their children, they want to be best friends with their children, so they don't discipline their children. The second set of parents' (notably the mother) world revolves around their children to the exclusion of caring for themselves. 

Tragically, if these parents don't change their parenting styles, their children will become a burden to those around them. Spoiled, demanding their own way, ignoring rules and authority. They will become a burden to themselves. Never satisfied with what they have, unable to hold a job because they cannot submit to the authority of their boss, undisciplined and friendless. These parents are not doing their children a favor.

Parenting takes a lot of work, especially at the front end. Will your kids make mistakes? Yup. We all do. But good parenting gives them the tools to make corrections along the way and gives them the best shot at fulfilling God's plan and purpose in their life.

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