My husband is a professional trumpet player and for 21 years, he has called from intermissions at orchestra concerts, ballets and shows he’s playing at night to help support our family. I look at the clock and know right when the phone will go off and I’ll hear his voice. “Hi, Ing…”
A mother anonymously went public online seeking help regarding a rebellious daughter. She and her husband were heartbroken that the daughter they had lovingly raised had entered adolescence and had turned into a foul-mouthed, rebellious young adult. The girl rejected any requirements for change by her parents and had created a living hell in the home. The distraught mother sought advice from readers of the site about what to do to “improve her relationship” with the girl. Advice ranged from “Tell her her tattoos and body piercings look nice and don’t judge!” to “Don’t argue with her at all. Let her do what she wants, so she doesn’t see you as authoritarian.” One commenter said, “Rules create rebels.” That’s the thinking out there.
As a mother who has had five teens thus far (all of the five are adults now), my husband and I have certainly seen our fair share of what it is to parent adolescents and the challenges it presents. What I want to address in this post is not run of the mill boundary pushing, attempted (emphasis on attempted) disrespect or occasional disobedience to parents. There is hardly one of us in existence that has not tried this growing up. What I’m talking about here are the extreme cases where a home is literally being destroyed by a young person who is at war with authority and is engaging in abusive conduct towards his or her parents.
When Tom and I were first married 21 years ago, friends of ours were going through this with a high school aged child. We would hear them describe what the daughter, raised in a Christian home with love, was doing (things like stealing from her own grandmother’s checking account, leaving school to have sex with her fast food manager, etc.), hear about the scenes she was creating in front of the other kids in the home, and we would wonder, how can they let this go on indefinitely? What is being accomplished here other than destroying the home for the other kids and destroying their own mental and physical health?
Getting back to the anonymous account from the devastated mother I referenced at the start of this post, she said her daughter was screaming at her husband and her, using the ugliest profanity, reserving the ugliest for her own mother, hurling f-bombs and then slamming the door (of the home they paid for), breaking things in her room, saying she hated them, and so forth and so on.
I will get to the point. Allowing any resident of your home, minor or otherwise, to behave in this fashion and keep residency, is to do the following: A) Send the message that abusive speech and behavior towards you is OK B) Train other children in the home that this is how conflict and disagreement is handled and how parents can be treated C) Demonstrate that your home can be turned into a war zone by anyone who so chooses D) Signal that you are not a full human being with boundaries that must be respected.
I have seen enough of the “unconditional love” of modern parenting, Christian or otherwise, to see that the current interpretation is a disaster. I believe in unconditional love, but not if it means that you and/or your spouse willingly serve as a doormat, punching bag, and a slum landlord who must accept anything and everything your tenant (that’s what an angry rebel becomes) dishes out. You also become an enabler of domestic abuse. Yes, abuse.
These young people are abusive. When this is a lifestyle pattern that harms others, it’s not “hormones”, “typical adolescent angst”, or anything else. It’s abuse. Nobody in my home will call me filthy names, accuse me with lies, and use profanity and anger in my presence. Nobody. My home, our home, is a haven from the rest of the world that has gone morally insane. This is our refuge of peace, and we will have peace. Tom and I are in complete agreement and always have been (spousal agreement on these things is crucial) about these issues. We did not allow any one of our kids to turn our home into a hell hole of rage and anger. When a child is at war with the parents, it’s time to seek alternative living arrangements for the rebel. There’s a time to work and pray with a child. There is also a time to acknowledge that their problems are doing gross harm to others.
Parents need to enter parenting having these thing straight in their minds. Our warped culture, as I pointed out earlier, thinks that having foul-mouthed, abusive teens who spit on the parents who have raised them, loved them and provided everything they have, is normal. It may be normal in America, but it should not be.
Some of the horrific headlines of parental abuse and even murder are an outgrowth of the kind of parenting we have today where parents try to be friends, shower kids with stuff instead of inculcating values, while kids morally rot in front of their eyes. Then these sociopaths and psychopaths turn on parents when they (in desperation) take technology away or make some 11th hour attempt to regain control they lost long ago.
There are some parents who have parented with love and discipline, however, and the spirit of the age takes hold in the heart of a child anyway. It is all the more devastating when you have invested your heart and soul into the life of a child only to see them wander away from truth and love. Having seen this as a parent, it can be devastating and inexplicable. That’s because we sometimes see parenting as a formula that, if adhered to, will provide certain results. That line of thinking, common among conservative Christians, is also incorrect. Sometimes kids reject what they are taught outright. They are not machines that you can program. Down the road, living in the rubble of their own bad decision making, sometimes they return to the light and to the truth. I have seen this. Sadly, some do not. Those things are not in our hands. It’s our job to love and teach them what is right and true. What they do with that is firmly their own choice.
So what is in our hands? That is the point of the post. We must, emphasis on must, not allow any one child to destroy our homes with their sinful warfare. Love must be tough, and sometimes that means finding a residential option that removes a minor child from the home they so despise. It can be the only hope they have of seeing that their willful rebellion and abuse of others has long-term consequences. When you have a young adult living in your home who is showing complete and ongoing disrespect, the answer is obvious. Stop enabling it. Lay down the expectations of the rules of the home for young people early on, and let them know that they have one warning, after which, they will face the consequences. Write it up as a contract so things are perfectly clear. Stick to it. Failure to do this will result in you making a mockery of your own boundaries, authority and your requirement of personal respect.
Tom and I have lived through these things through the years. When I see Christian parents in total dismay at young adult rebels wanting to sit around gaming or refusing to do the most basic chores, expecting to enjoy the fruit of their parents’ hard work while contributing nothing but mouthiness and disrespect, it’s evident where the problem lies. You get the respect you expect. It’s that simple.
I saw a teen comment on the same post online written by the dismayed mother. The teen wrote, “Parents treat us with disrespect and think we’ll respect them back.” This is the attitude I am talking about. It is the job of the parent so say, “You have clearly rejected us as parents and are most unhappy with the job we have done. We respect your right to hold an opinion. Now you can view us as landlords instead. All landlords have expectations and rules for tenants. Here are ours if you expect to stay in this home and also listed are the consequences if you decide to do things your way. Then be ready to calmly enforce it. Dispassionate, calm enforcement of the rules, and a refusal to be drawn into emotional screaming matches is essential. Letting them push your buttons puts them in control, not you.
Cause and effect. Teaching that to young people is critical. Teaching respect for others is crucial. Start early and reinforce boundaries, something that modern parents-as-friends fail to do, beginning in early childhood.
Parents are people, too. We sacrifice the best years of our lives when we have children, pouring our time, energy and resources into our kids, because we love them. Don’t send the fatal message that they can turn around and spit on you. That is the wrong message.
Addendum: To those who say this is not parenting with grace and forgiveness, understand this: Repentance is turning around. When a son or daughter is truly sorry for their behavior and treatment of parents, it will be evident by conduct, not just verbal promises. If you hastily restore fellowship with someone in your home who has been abusive as described above, you only destabilize your home and invite further chaos. We are called to forgive seventy times seven as Christians. We are not called to lightly re-expose ourselves to health-threatening stress and abusive conduct from someone who may be manipulating to re-enter the home. This is true of any abuser, whoever they are. Forgiveness is not the same as renewed fellowship. That can only come where there is ample fruit of real heart change. Remember that.
Remember something else. When dealing with a full scale rebel who has turned your home into a war zone, be prepared for ignorant and hurtful judgements from others, some even within your own family or extended family. When you decide to be proactive and find an alternative living situation for the child/young adult, you will be accused of various and sundry parenting failures. “It must be something in their home. They are too (fill in the blank with accusation here.)” To parents already in pain, this can be doubly hurtful. I urge parents in this situation to refuse to discuss the situation with anyone placing themselves in a seat of judgment. Only you as parents know what has gone on and what drove you to an extreme decision. The response to such judges should be, “That is not your call to make. We are not interested in discussing it with you for privacy reasons. ” If they persist, cutting off contact with busybodies not showing respect for your own experience and decision making is the only wise course of action. Those who judge without the facts serve to further divide and injure you emotionally, something you don’t need at a time like this.
Related to the post below about the apocalyptic election scene, I offer this article: Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The Courage to Be a Christian, by Joseph Pearce. An excerpt:
As we await the fall of the Obamanation, we need to remember that the culture of death is a parasite. It does not give life; it only destroys or corrupts it. Like all successful parasites, it kills itself when it kills the host culture on which it feeds. It is not merely deadly but suicidal. It is unsustainable. It cannot survive. Let’s not forget that Hitler’s promise of a Thousand Year Reich lasted only twelve years. In a similar vein, the communist revolution which according to Marx would usher in the end of history, is itself a ruined remnant of history. Little could Solzhenitsyn have known when he languished as one of the many millions in the Soviet prison system that he would outlive the Soviet system and, furthermore, that his own courage would play an important part in that very system’s collapse.
There are so many voices warning of the direction our country is headed. But nobody reads anymore, history instruction is a joke, as is much of “higher education. This is why history always repeats itself. Wise people listen to those who have gone on before, and they learn from it.
A Hope Blog reader sent me the following message today: “May we get a Hope Blog post with your thoughts about the upcoming election? I’m really curious where you stand.”
I hesitated to address this topic on a blog that has been primarily about hope. But having already seen about everything there is to see on social media about this 2016 election season, I thought I would share a few, brief thoughts. It won’t take long, I promise.
As to where I stand, I know many others share my view that never before in history in this country have we had a sadder set of choices before us. My husband and I were talking about the truly terrible example all of it is setting for our children in terms of the character of both candidates and the layers of filth, dishonesty and corruption the campaign has revealed on both sides.
Worse still is the fact that relationships have ended among Christians over whether voting for Trump is acceptable as believers. Never have I seen the anger on the conservative side, and my involvement in Christian radio goes back 25 years. There’s nothing with which the level of rancor and rage can be compared.
My position on Facebook with my many friends from different perspectives on this has been to say, “Vote your conscience before God. That is what matters.” I said some terse things about Mr. Trump early on, and I stand by those statements. Nothing has changed, and the explosion of recent “revelations” have added nothing.
My vote is private, and it will stay that way. I will say this. Those conservatives who hold out hope that Mr. Trump will save America are destined for disappointment. My view is that God is not going to save America. Why? Because America, including grossly compromised Evangelicals, have shut him out long, long ago. Why would He, in his righteousness and holiness, perpetuate the gross evil in America? This country is neck deep in the blood of innocent children, pornography and every manner of sexual debauchery, with evangelical churches long ago having left the preaching of the true Gospel. I documented this for a quarter of a century on the radio program I hosted and news blog I published. I believe God is merciful, but He is also just and bound by His Word. The sign wave of history and the rise and fall of nations confirms all He has said. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
So what is my position? I believe that the two choices we have are already a sign of God’s judgment. Seeing conservative Christians clawing desperately at a man of such low character, clinging to the hope that he will somehow save us from apocalypse on the Supreme Court, etc. etc., is sad to me. I understand the arguments from a human standpoint. Try to block the worst of the worst goes the rationale. But it is my own view that it is a vain hope. You can’t fight darkness with darkness.
God will use whomever He chooses to do all His holy will. I do believe that with all my heart. But seeing the smoking ruins of this country and a church that long ago ceased being salt, the preserving influence, in it, I don’t see America as having a future., regardless of who this bankrupt country ultimately elects.
So where is the hope? The hope is the same place it has always been, although it is so often obscured in times of prosperity and ease. The hope is found in returning to the God of our Fathers. It’s found in finding our strength and comfort in the One who will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter how much we lose as Christians. His call and what may be his last call is being issued to all of us. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Also, I would urge friends who read this not to fight over it. The enemy of souls wins huge victories when we let relationships blow up because of disagreements of this magnitude. The election will be over soon, and we will be left with what we have done with other people in our lives. No matter who is elected, we still are called to love each other. We’ve all been wrong. We’re more prone to see that when we don’t have someone else in our face calling us this and that in anger.
Vote your conscience. That is your business alone. God is very firmly in control of this. He raises up leaders and brings them down. I am also assured of this.: There has never been an evil leader in history (or any person) who has not faced a day of accountability, either in this life or the next. We can rest in the character of God to do what is right and just. It may not be on our preferred schedule, but ultimately, those in rebellion to the Almighty will give an answer at the final Court of No Appeal.
Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by Thy hand
To our fatherland.
If the way be drear,
If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through many a woe
To our home we go.
Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won.
Heavenly Leader, still direct us,
Still support, control, protect us,
Till we safely stand
In our fatherland.
~ Christian Gregor, 1778
Based on Luke 5:11
In a post below, I mentioned a recent article about mothers with regrets about having children. An article today on Stream.org highlights the piece and the tragic women led to believe life is all about them. Here’s the piece for anyone interested.
A recent article on a UK site shared anonymous thoughts of mothers who reportedly had regrets about parenthood. Reading through the comments, the mentality of the mothers involved provided insight into the self-centered and narcissistic culture we have now. One new mom wrote that she now “hated” her life. The demands of an infant, night and day, ruled her life. No longer could she take off for yoga and pilates, spray tans, coffee dates with friends , or hair highlighting without cumbersome logistical issues of child care, and she resented it like crazy.
The remarks of these mothers made me fear for the babies and toddlers involved. No child is safe, physically or emotionally, in an environment where a mother is so absorbed with herself that she actively resents the existence of her own child.
The needs of children are intense and immediate. There is no doubt about that. I was first introduced to that at the age of 20. As I have said before, it was the making of me. Holding my little son, Charlie, I knew life wasn’t about me anymore. When you love your child, your happiness, your well being is tied up inextricably with theirs. You are held captive by that love. And that’s how it is supposed to be. That’s how babies can know the nurture and protection that they need.
Younger generations are not made of the sterner stuff previous generations of mothers had. I mean that sincerely. I frequently see memes and comments on social media about how kids drive moms to drink, how wine play dates are essential for moms, how kids are always out of control and how that’s the norm and how all parents can do is hunker down and try to endure.
While it’s true that parenthood isn’t orderly and predictable and motherhood is filled with challenges that can seem overwhelming, I reflect on how difficult, by comparison, our mothers and grandmothers had it. It is helpful to have that perspective. My mother had no disposable diapers, no wipes, no electric dryer, a ringer washer someone left behind in the flat they rented (she had to go down two flights of steep stairs to a dank basement to use the washer and peg out the diapers and clothes in winter), and had no air conditioned minivan or home, no dishwasher or microwave, no counter tops in her kitchen, no wealth of toys and clothes. She made do, many, many times. That’s what moms did back then when they had to.
Then there was her mother who had 8 children, beginning in the Great Depression years that lingered in the Ozarks where she grew up, long after the rest of the country was in recovery economically. Grandma washed diapers on a wash board. She washed all the clothes on a washboard after getting water outside from a pump. They had no running water or indoor plumbing. She had no cribs for her babies, one slept in a dresser drawer. I could go on and on with the difficulty of mothering in that era in America. As for white privilege, that nonsense term that is so popular now, that is an insulting joke. There was no such thing for my relatives.
So when I hear sleek, young mothers with smartphones and selfies on Instagram and all the conveniences known today complaining about how they are up every two hours (for a few brief weeks) and how they need alcohol to cope, I feel sorry for them. They have no idea.
I feel sorry for these mothers because they don’t know how quickly it all goes. It’s a blink of an eye and it’s over, all those moments where you can savor the sweet smell of your baby or toddler’s head, all the times you hold those dear little bodies close to you when they need comfort, all the times you are needed and wanted by your child.
Our youngest who was born when I was 42 and my husband, 51, is a young lady now in second grade. I get choked up when I remember our many walks when she was little. I even wrote about them here on the blog, and realize how she has grown up since then. In my mind’s eye, I can see her dancing down the sidewalk in front of me, singing the little songs she always made up, asking about the flowers and birds and houses we passed. I can see the highlights the sun showed in her hair on a beautiful summer morning. I can see her running, always trying to catch a robin, but never quite succeeding.
We talked about so many things on those walks, God, nature, life. And now, she is a big girl of 7 with long legs, growing ever taller. I just saw a photo of Emmy last year at this time, and I could not believe the change in her. That is as it should be, but the question always lingers, did I savor those days enough, or did I get lost in the work of it all and miss what was passing by? Am I savoring her now, at this stage? Or am I letting fatigue let me wish this phase away?
I came across this beautiful post from another blogger at Finding Joy. I want to share it with you. If you were once a young mother or are now a young mother, it affirms the value of what we do as moms, day in and day out. It’s not in the Pinterest-y moments of crafting and fancy homemaking that our worth is established, but in nights when a small, hot hand touches our faces and our child is sick with fever and in need of us. it’s in the walks, the talks, the meals we make and the daily care we provide. We weave the fabric of our children’s emotional and physical health by being there and caring. It’s a tapestry that only we can weave.
God bless you mothers who understand this and don’t listen to the siren song of popular culture that perpetually devalues mothers’ sacrifices and instead celebrates moms who outsource that role to achieve “greater” things. Reject the lie of popular culture and embrace your child while you can. They are gone before you know it.
“You see, beloved, the Christian life is not one lived for self, but is lived in Christ and for others, most especially within the family. For many this seems too ordinary and mundane, not exciting or fun. But in truth it is the good life, the abundant life, the life that is received from Christ and shared in our vocations with those closest to us. And even though it is invisible to the world, even though it seems as though you could be, or should be something more extraordinary, even though it is difficult and time consuming and seemingly makes little difference, such a life is a great life! Amen!” — Rev. Tony Sikora
(My mother, Freda, and Emmy yesterday.)
Music has always been a big part of my life. Thanks to inexpensive LP records at Treasure Island (a discount store in our area back in the 70’s), we had more than just gospel music at home. Mom bought everything from John Phillip Sousa, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (I wore that one out), Johnny Mann’s choral music, E. Power Biggs organ albums, and many others. I played these on the stereo at home a lot. We took piano lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory as children, and my sister and I sang with a Christian singing group that traveled around the country each Easter break for years. In addition, our Lutheran day school taught music reading as part of our curriculum along with sacred music in choir. We learned American folk songs and lots of wonderful hymns that we sang in chapel and in class devotions.
Also, I heard gospel music long before it was so commercialized with slick pop stars, back when it really was about the great old songs, not so much the performers. As kids, my siblings and I fell asleep late at night many times on our coats at the Christian radio station where our parents worked in Milwaukee’s central city, the Haven of Rest radio program on the speakers in the ceiling. This recording here of their theme song with the bells takes me straight back to those times years ago.
As a young adult, I became familiar with a broader range of hymnody on CD, Psalm singing of various kinds (metrical Psalms from Scotland, Anglican chant, etc.), and the grand festival hymns of the English choral tradition. I interviewed John Rutter once about his wonderful compositions and I have the CD’s of his hymns that are unequaled, as far as I am concerned, in excellence. I also bought St. Olaf’s choir CD’s, the choir of Gustavas Adolphus (I love their Scandinavian hymn CD), and so forth.
For a time, I drifted away from the gospel songs I grew up with, but as I have grown older, I find myself coming back again to the songs I used to hear in congregational singing and from recording artists like George Beverly Shea. In the last few years, these sweet old songs have been a tremendous comfort to me.
Scripture talks about Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs—three separate categories, That’s because each category serves a purpose of its own. It’s not that you can’t sing a hymn of worship on your bed on a sleepless or pain-filled night, but often that is when the gospel songs mean the most. They speak of God’s immanence, his closeness to us through Christ–our Savior who knows what it is to suffer and to walk on this earth as a human. Hymns of worship emphasize God’s transcendence, his sovereignty and greatness, his holiness, something we also acknowledge. But when hurting, the closeness of God is what we tend to need most.
I once stood next to my grandma, Mary, in a church service where they were singing the Fanny Crosby song, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.” I heard her sweet quavering voice next to me. Do you know, I never forgot it, and every time I hear that song, I remember her and her faith. The words of that song, penned by the blind Crosby, reflect Luther’s deathbed words, “We are beggars all.” No matter how strong we think we are, in the end, we are dependent completely on the Savior passing by our place of need. (See the story of Bartemaeus)
Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.
Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.
Thou the spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee,
Whom in Heav’n but Thee.
~ Fanny J. Crosby
I recently discovered a YouTube channel of congregational singing including many of these old gospel songs. I am a big fan! When I can’t get to church, I watch these videos and sing aloud. I know many of these hymns by heart and don’t have to reference the words. Here is one such song that I love, and another beneath it. The channel is called “Faith for the Family” from Temple Baptist Church in Powell, Tennessee. If you’re blessed by these dear old songs, check it out and sing along. One of the things I notice are the young faces in the congregation, and many of them are really singing these. How wonderful that another generation will know these treasures.
Here are the words of this song, “He Hideth my Soul.” Another of Fanny Crosby’s compositions, the text is based on Exodus 33:22
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that despite the world’s foundations being rocked by turmoil and fear these days, our souls, as Christians, are hid with God, in Christ. He hides our souls and covers them with his hand.
This one is the earliest song I remember singing in church, back at First Christian and Missionary Alliance on 60th street in Milwaukee. It’s hard not to join in joyfully with that refrain. “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things he has done!”
The Apostle Paul and Silas, imprisoned at Phillipi for sharing the Gospel, are recorded in Scripture as singing in their chains (just before the earthquake that set them free. See Acts, Chapter 16) We cannot change circumstances in our lives so often, but we can sing anyway. Our song comes from the knowledge that our God “plants his footsteps in the seas, and rides upon the storm.” He is with us, come what may in this life. And soon, we will see Him in a place where no tear will ever dim our eyesight. What a day that will be.
I hope these are as much of a blessing to you as they are to me!
A recent question posed on a parenting website sought public opinion. The question had to do with whether or not readers supported adult-oriented restaurants banning young children. The answers were interesting to read. They ran the gamut from, “Absolutely not. Kids should be welcome anywhere”, and “Society in the West is way too anti-child,” to “Yes, they should. Adults should have a kid-free zone if they want.”
I gave my own answer which I will re-share here. To underscore one of my points, I really believe that much of the hostility towards children in public places like planes and restaurants is the direct consequence of too many children who are not under control of their parents. If wise pet owners know the importance of obedience training (a dog not trained can be a major problem), how much more important is it to teach and train our children with eternal souls? Without child training our kids become a menace to others. This is wholly unnecessary.
Young parents will read something like what I wrote (shared below) and sneer, “Oh, wow. Your kids are so PERFECT! How could we ever measure up to your perfection?” I’ve seen hundreds of comments like this from moms insinuating that teaching obedience, respect for authority and respect for others is some peculiar and unattainable thing, and that any parent (no matter how experienced) who claims they have trained their children this way is either lying or bragging.
It is sad to see the wrong-headed ideas about parenting absorbed several generations deep now where kids running rampant, screaming, throwing fits (I just saw a cartload of this at the grocery store the other day) is the norm. It is the norm now, but it should not be, in my own opinion.
Both my husband and I grew up in homes where obeying parents and not being a public nuisance was the norm. My mother only had to look at us to achieve compliance in public places and church. We were not allowed to ask for things at other people’s homes and not allowed to whine for candy in the grocery aisle or anywhere else. No meant no. We loved our mom, which was the foundation for her child-rearing success. But we also knew she meant business. We were not terrorized by her nor repressed by her parenting. She was the final word. It was that simple.
My husband and I have taken the same approach with our children. We have the final word. Children are in training for adulthood, and they were and are (Emily is our last one) not going to run wild and treat their neighbors (those in public) with contempt and disrespect. Concern for the well-being of others, we emphasize with her, should be the basis for all courtesy. Life is about more than just you and your desires.
Here is my response on the parenting site. If you disagree, feel free to write so in the comments. I want to add this point. I realize that with the rise of autism, some parents are dealing with special needs which my post, for obvious reasons, does not include. Special needs are special needs. Most children simply are not expected to obey today and behave properly in public, and that is the problem.
I am a mother of six children, ranging in age from 7 to 30, also a grandma to 3 toddlers. I absolutely believe that restaurants have the right to ban service to young children. The fact that there are wonderful exceptions to the rule when it comes to young child behavior is not the point. It’s that we have an epidemic of youngish parents today who have no concept of child training and discipline. The fact that young children are not welcome in certain places should be common sense.
Decades of permissive parenting advice, advice doled out by idiotic parenting magazines and “experts” who are anything but, and the simultaneous loss of generational influence in families have resulted in child-driven couples who are more interested in being buddies with their child than teaching them the needed skills for public behavior. In short, kids run the show with their tantrums and demands for total freedom in all places, and parents often act like hapless fools, watching their children offend and interfere with other adults. I truly believe the hostility frequently shown to children in public places is a direct result of parents not having children under control. Children, when in subjection to authority, are a delight. When they are not, they can be little horrors, disrupting and defrauding others of peace and order.
With children (two from orphanages) of many personality types raised in our home, I continue to believe that parents can and should teach respect for authority and respect for others – the two are inseparable – or we are failing. Restaurants field complaints and risk loss of business from loyal customers when they allow out of control children to destroy the atmosphere the customers value. Parents are free to go elsewhere to a family-friendly setting, but when when customers pay for a quiet evening out and then descend into a chaotic atmosphere with out of control kids, it cheats customers out of what they paid for.
So that’s my position. A voice of sanity is badly needed in the wacky world of modern parenting advice. This is just one issue I feel strongly about regarding child-rearing. In the future, I’ll write on the subject of schedules and the importance of order in a child’s development. But that’s for another day.
It is dark and the air heavy with impending rain this school morning. Even the bright kitchen lights don’t seem to cut the gloom. I help my daughter with her hair and get her breakfast. While she works on her oatmeal and toast, I make her sandwich and pack the rest of her lunch.
The clouds look like they could break open any moment as I drive slowly through the streets of our village, two minutes to Emmy’s school. Drops spatter on my windshield on the drive home, more fall as I turn into our driveway. I make it into the garage before the deluge.
Inside again I set my keys up on the shelf and kick off my shoes. There is no sound inside the house but the gentle ticking of the cuckoo clock in the dining room. Everything is neat and tidy. Rain falls outside, but I can’t hear it. Emmy says you can hear the rain on the roof of our ranch when it is coming down hard, but my hearing doesn’t extend to those sounds. Just the steady ticking of the clock. That I can hear.
I make my coffee and sit in the living room by the window, watching the leaden skies divest themselves of all the moisture they have stored. Rain drips from our Magnolia steadily.
Tick, tick, tick.
It is so dark in the room, I feel the sudden need for lamp light. My eyes roam the shelves where my many books sit patiently, waiting for me. Old friends, all of them. The piano where Emmy practices her first songs sits in the corner. But the old, black Steinway is silent this morning, awaiting small fingers at the end of the school day.
Tick, tick, tick.
No voices call out to me, no demands, no requests. Far away, Will is at college. Downtown, Tom is at work. Down the street, Emmy is busy at school. And I am alone in my house in the quiet and peace. Sitting by the window. Watching the rain come down, the soft tick of my clock keeping time.