It could be the fact that we are soon to be “empty-nesters”, but I have been thinking a lot about parenting lately. (Actually our college-aged son still lives at home, but we rarely see him with the differences in our schedules.) I know my days of having a controlled, direct influence over my boys is almost over. I have little leverage with them now. I still pay their insurance and will continue to help them with expenses while they work their way through college, but they could probably make it on their own at this point should they choose to try. I’m not advocating they do (and it wouldn’t be very wise on their part…just in case they read this), but the point is that my parenting role has changed.
My thoughts go to those parents who are still in the deep molding stage. When children are young they are so impressionable. (I wrote a blog with similar content last week.) The time to capitalize on a parent’s influence over their children is before children get to a point where they can and will make decisions on their own, completely free of the parent’s influence. Obviously a parent loses some control when a child begins to drive or leaves home, but it really begins about the time a child reaches middle school or junior high, and even as early as the late elementary school years.
A trend I see today that scares me is the power parents are giving to children too early in their life to make decisions on their own. Parents are allowing preschoolers and elementary-aged children to dictate for the parents what they will or will not do. Discipline seems less prevalent and freedom to choose seems more mainstream. Everything seems to be about pleasing the child and making sure he or she has everything they want, rather than the focus being on disciplining the child in attempt to build the child’s character and sense of responsibility. Please understand, I am not advocating we don’t allow our children to have fun, but I am advocating that the parent assume control of their child early so they can instill in them, while they have influence, the proper ways to interact with the world.
Sadly I get asked for advice on dealing with children usually when it is past the point of doing much about the situation. Trying to keep a high school student from making bad decisions is much harder than it would have been when the child was six years old. I often wish the parents had asked for advice when the child was younger.
If you still have young children at home, allow these two verses to speak for themselves:
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 29:15: The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
Proverbs 29:17: Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
For more parenting suggestions check out the PARENTING category of this blog.