Friday, September 9, 2011

Holding the Line

Young Master Calvin was rather cranky the other night.  It was bedtime but the truth of the matter was that he wasn't the least bit tired (or so he thought!).  He hummed, he shouted, he thrashed his bed.  Knowing I couldn't allow him to terrorize the entire house just when we were settling in for out nightly slumber, I made my way to his bedside.

Explaining to him that he must be quiet I hugged him, kissed him and tucked him snugly in his bed.  With a heavy heart, I trudged downstairs.  I knew that this quiet was to be short lived.  I took up residence on the couch (getting back into a warm bed makes it so much more difficult to discipline with consistency).  Five minutes later Master Calvin was loudly expressing his dislike with his current confinement.  Upstairs I went.  The problem was quickly dealt with and I again creeped downstairs.

Within minutes, my presence was again required.  Vowing to remain consistent, I once again corrected my wayward son.  Back in the living room, I prayed for my young man.  As I prayed, I realized that I was not just correcting naughty behavior.  I was witnessing a battle.  My son was battling with himself. He was itchy, he was hot, he was uncomfortable in his own skin.  He knew what was right, but he didn't want to do it.  He wanted his own way.  And as a mom, I had to give him the tools to fight his battles.

I realized that Master Calvin had to learn to hold the line.  He had to know what was right and do it no matter how he "felt".  He had to fight this battle with himself and come out victorious.  He needed to develop the inner strength to hold whatever line had to be held, regardless of personal comfort or personal desire.

It was in this moment that I gained a more focused vision of parenthood.  I realized that it was not just poor behavior that I was correcting, instead I was giving my children the tools to build their lives.  I was instilling self-discipline, self-control and the ability to deny their fleshly desires.  In my lowly occupation as a mother, I was shaping the character of our world.

I want my children to hold the line.  I want them to stand in the gap between good and evil.  I want them to do the right thing when it is uncomfortable.  I want them to look into the face of impossibility and boldly make a stand.  And it starts in the crib.  Men don't learn to hold the line on the field of battle, they learn in the bosom of their parents home.  If we fail to give our children the tools to master themselves, we fail to give our world the men we so desperately need.

Hold the line.  Your children need you.


  1. Amen and amen. Such an unpopular idea in this day, but oh, so necessary. Our friends have been astonished at the obedience and self-control of our children. Most aren't willing to put forth the effort required to train it into their children. They just hope that it will one day "happen". Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your insights with us.

  2. You are teaching and enforcing to your prodigy what is so sadly lacking in our nation today.
    The future of this country is dependent on our children learning the self discipline of self governing.


  3. Enola,

    When I was 11 or 12, myself and a friend found some paint thinner at a construction site we were exploring. My friend had a lighter so we burned down one of those porta-potty (outhouses) things.
    My mother found out and beat me with a stick. That put an end to my arson career, and to this day, I really dont like to play with fire.

  4. I really like this...even though I don't have children I recognize the truth of what you say. Sadly it is also very evident that most parents aren't taking the time to do what needs to be done as far as teaching their children this very important life lesson. It's so frustrating because I see this every day in a lot of the children who come into our restaurant. Their parent's just let them do whatever the heck they want because they are too busy doing their own thing to shape the character of the little souls entrusted to them.

    Of course, I also think it's easy for me to talk since I haven't been gifted with children. I know it's a hard job and I can only imagine the stress, but still--these people had at least 9 months to mentally prepare themselves for the responsibility and decide if it's something that they want. Adoption is a viable option for people who don't think they can handle the job.

  5. Is that the Union line holding at Pickett's charge?

    Something from the Revolutionary War I think would better illustrate the point.

  6. A beautiful framing of parenthood, politics, and civil behavior. Thank you for brightening my Saturday morning!

  7. I appreciate your wise words. I was not a believer until I was in my early 30's. Unfortunately this means during the first portion of my kids' lives (until they were 4 and 7-ish) I was experimenting with all sorts of whacky liberal parenting. Then of course it has been a long slow maturation process and I recognize that I still have a long way to go. I have come far enough to realize that I have done my children a disservice with my early parenting and it is going to be way harder to fix it now that patterns and habits and ways of relating to one another have been established. Thanks for the encouragement for me to hold my own line in trying to teach my kids.

  8. Amazing and profound post!!! And worthy of passing on to all friends and family. I may have mentioned this before but I will again because it is important and it ties in beautifully with this post. I am a Prison Guard (Correction Officer) in a male prison facility and my prisoners all seem to have numerous kids coming to see them for visits. The mothers (or Baby Mama's as the inmates like to say) all seem to be on assistance and overwhelmed or simply stuck at the 7th grade level behavior-wise or simply couldn't care less. I realize that these women have never been given to TOOLS to train their youngsters into decent citizens and so they raise them to come to prison just like Daddy whether they realize it or not. Hey, job security for me, but not so good for the public in general. I even had one spunky child shout in my face "I'm going to live here just like Daddy when I grow up!" What can you do except pray for them? I can't really tell the mothers what they are doing wrong since it isn't my place. Shhhhh....TOP SECRET.... I have, on occasion, told one or two mothers that 'when your son gets to this prison I won't even be able to hire him to take out my trash or mop my floor because he can't control himself'..... A few of them 'caught on' and there was a positive change in the child after that. Few... and far between. Most, I fear, simply don't know or don't care.

    Enola Gay, when young Master Calvin is old enough to appreciate it, you can tell him (from me!) how lucky he has been to have a mother like you and a father like Sir Knight. He will most likely be tired in the evening from working diligently at whatever he does, rather than being in the hospital AGAIN from yet another series of stab wounds.

    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  9. Raising children isn't easy. It takes more time and effort to do it right than anything else in the world. The reasonabilty of producing a child that will grow up to be a productive member of society should not be taken lightly. We get complimented on our daughter's behavior whenever we go out in public. I tell people if she can behavior any child can. At 3yrs our daughter was diagnosed severely autistic. By the age of 6yr it was determined that she was high functioning and reading at a high school level. My husband told me years ago that if we treat as handicapped she will be. At 4yr she couldn't say a sentence but she could say "please and thank you". It isn't easy, but "holding the line" as you say is the key.
    God Bless you and yours,
    Stuck in CA

  10. You write the most wonderful posts. Though my children are grown and gone and I am pleased with the way they have turned out, I wish I had had a friend with such wisdom when they were younger. God has truly gifted you. What a blessing your family has.

  11. Dear Enola,
    I am re-reading this. Last year around the time of this writing I was having a very difficult time with my son. We have since found out he had some allergy issues and have resolved them. But because of these issues he had some very bad habits that needed to be addresses.
    Holding that line and pointing him in the right direction was/IS so very difficult. But very well worth it.
    Thank you for sharing this piece of your family with your readers. Its good to know I'm not alone.
    Best to you and your family!