Thursday, June 17, 2010
Credit Card ParentingWhen I was growing up, my mom and dad often said that they had disciplined my brother and I when we were little so that they would like us when we were older. Of course, I didn't fully understand this statement until I was grown and had children of my own.
It wasn't until we had our oldest daughter that I began to realize the true significance of my parents statement. Sir Knight and I endeavored, from the time Maid Elizabeth was a little girl, to raise her to be obedient, respectful, kind and responsible. The most resistance we encountered was from, can you believe it, other parents! While we expected our daughter to obey the first time we spoke, her playmates were allowed free rein. Outrageous disrespect and just plain naughtiness was regularly excused under the umbrella statement "it's just a phase". It wasn't. These same children grew up on Ritalin and other mind-altering drugs, plugged into the TV or video games day and night, with their parents ringing their hands saying things like "I just don't know what happened - we gave him everything, and look how he has repaid our love".
They did give their kids everything. Everything that is but discipline. Everything but guidelines and boundaries. They succumbed to Credit Card Parenting.
Sir Knight coined the phrase "Credit Card Parenting" while watching some kids in front of us at church. One family, in particular, had the happy distinction of raising 8 perfectly awful hooligans. These kids, while quite old enough to control themselves, took every opportunity to crawl under the pews, look up ladies skirts, lay on the floor and kick elderly folks in the ankles. All the while, their parents sat, apparently completely unaware, sweetly singing hymns, or with hands folded on their bibles, graciously smiling at the pastor. When confronted with their children's unacceptable behavior, they merely chalked it up to "kids will be kids", or "It's just a phase, they will grow out of it". Of course, their kids didn't "grow out of it" and now their adult lives look like so many train wrecks. Credit card parenting.
Ultimately, as parents, we have to deal with poor behavior, disobedience and disrespect now, or we will be paying later....with interest. Compound interest at that. And, to top it off, not only will we have to pay, our children will have to pay the interest debt also, with broken lives and hopeless existences.
Not too long ago, Sir Knight was sitting in the waiting room at our local dentist office and a woman who had been our neighbor when Maid Elizabeth was little was sitting in the next seat. A slouching, unhappy looking young man was sitting next to her. The woman immediately recognized my husband, and started talking about the "old days" when we had been neighbors. She talked about our children playing together, and how cute they were then. Then she went on to say "don't you just HATE teenagers? They are terrible, I can't stand them. At least when they were little, they were cute! Don't you HATE teenagers?". Her son was sitting right next to her! He was made in her own image. He was what she had designed him to be.
Now, don't everyone start yelling at once. I fully understand that children are people with their own moral compass. I know that children are sinners too, and sometimes, regardless of their parents best efforts will fall into the trap of sin. But, I also know, that when we give our children guidelines and loving discipline, we are, in essence, giving them hope for the future. If we train them, when they are young, to obey our instructions, how much easier, when they are older, will it be for them to obey God's instructions? How can teaching our children respect and responsibility ever produce bad fruit? And, yes, when you discipline your children when they are young, you will enjoy them when they are older.
One of Sir Knight and my greatest joys are evenings spent with Master Hand Grenade (14) and Maid Elizabeth (21) after the littler children have gone to bed. What fun they are! We talk about everything under the sun. Last night it was a discussion on the differences between the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. Fascinating! They knew so much more than I would have given them credit for. And then, Maid Elizabeth tucked her cold feet under Master Hand Grenade's shirt, and the evening digressed from there. I had to make a run to the bathroom from laughing to hard! And who said teenagers were terrible? I've never had so much fun!
Whatever you do, don't become a victim of a credit card scam! You will miss out on some of the greatest blessings of you life - liking your children!
Sir Knight with Hand Grenade (in their kilts!)
Maid Elizabeth (trying not to laugh)
Maid Elizabeth and Master Calvin
Children truly are a blessing from the Lord.