My family and I have just returned from a two-week vacation (trip). We traveled more than 4,000 miles in 13 days and God blessed us through it all, no complaints.
For you parents reading this, you know that traveling with little children is a bit difficult. Routines are disrupted, schedules are broken, rebellion increases, your patience shortens, and so on. On this particular trip, a bit of parenting wisdom was revealed to me rather profoundly, and here it is:
Parents must be willing to ruin their plans.
You know, you are out to dinner at your favorite restaurant and a little one acts up and you bring that little squealer out to the van, buckle her in, sit and wait while the rest of your family (and everyone else in the restaurant) enjoys their meal. Or you tell the kids that today you will go to the lake, but disobedience leads to staying at home (or grandma and grandpa’s). Or when you take the kids to a grocery store not found out west and the little bairns act out you simply go home leaving the groceries you wanted behind. If you are a parent, you know what I mean.
This must happen as a form of discipline. If a child is in the throes of disobedience it must be communicated that that behavior will not be tolerated. Rebellion in the family leads to the fracturing of the family. When a child changes his or her heart they can be restored to the family and the blessings of it, but if a child’s heart remains hard for the time, they must learn that the blessings of the family are not theirs. Selfishness cannot be rewarded.
If, however, in the midst of rebellion the child still gets ice cream, or time at the beach, then your threatening of discipline without follow through simply shows the child you have no standards of good and evil, or that you don’t care. Even wickedness is rewarded when parents are lazy or selfish.
And I have to admit that I have been there. I mean, I wanted to go to the beach. I wanted the ice cream, or to sit at the table in the restaurant. But refer to my piece of parenting wisdom above, parents must be willing to ruin their plans.
You might be the one who thinks that a screeching child in a restaurant is a sign of bad parenting. Nay, I say. How the parents respond is a sign of good or bad parenting. For Christians, being a good parent and a good neighbor is a lot of work. Your plans have to be ruined on occasion.
Think about it. Your three-year old throws a tantrum in the grocery store and you say, “Nope. We talked about this before we came in (which you should do!). We are leaving.” You scoop said toddler up, leave your cart of groceries at the customer service desk and go home. This is hard, of course, and mom will have to go back to the store another day, of course, but teaching your children that obedience to mom and dad and love for your neighbors is required is showing them that they are not the center of the world. You don’t get to disturb the lives of other diners, shoppers, beach-goers or what have you because you didn’t get what you want. To hell with the chicken fingers then, we are going home.
We are, after all, supposed to be teaching our children that people are more valuable than chicken fingers, ice cream, or a sandy beach. Loving people is a command from the God who made us, so we parents need to show our children how and that just might mean your plans are ruined.