When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay.
When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.
Raising children has never been easy. God has placed within them imagination, strength of will, and emotional immaturity. We have placed within them a sinful nature which makes for a dangerous concoction. There are, have been, and certainly will be moments each day when I feel the truth of Nanny McPhee. I am but 6 months from being a Dad of a teenager. In some ways, my daughter (10) is already trying out teenage responses.
When they were little, their need for us was so overwhelming. They could do nothing on their own. They could not eat or dress on their own. For a time they could not even use the bathroom on their own. Now of course, fights ensue over how long they are in the mirror, how much hot water was used, and who did not turn on the fan! I digress. Now they are becoming so independent. The growth chart on the wall attempts to reveal young adults when their faces and emotions betray. We are now in the midst of this McPhee truth.
They need hugs and kisses though they do not want them. Children need affection regardless of what they tell you. They also need to see affection between parents. The way I treat Dulcie will likely be how my son treats a wife. The way I train him to treat his mother will further develop how he treats a wife. The way I love my daughter will directly affect the kind of man she will marry. They need the affection though the adolescent in them will act like it kills them!
They need sleep though they do not think they want it. We have attempted to keep a fairly structured bedtime. Some nights do not allow, such as Sunday and Wednesday nights due to church related activities. However, we try to get them in bed early. Though they are a little older, 8pm is still a goal we have. Healing and brain development occurs during sleep. If children do not get the right amount of sleep everyone pays the price. In addition, Dulcie and I need time to ourselves. One of the greatest ways to be better parents is to be better spouses. We need the time together as well.
They need guidance though they don’t always want it. My kids are like yours. They have an independent streak in them that they nurture and produce at the most inopportune moments! This seems to be the year of the attitude, though I vaguely remember last year was also. Guiding how they react and respond to influence both inside and out is critical to success in life. Trust me, they do not always want this guidance, but they need it. They need to know the boundaries. They need to know the consequences. They need endure consequences at times also.
They need encouragement in measured doses. Every person needs encouragement. However, we can encourage in an embarrassing way if not careful. Coaching from the stands may feel encouraging to you but not to them. Coach them up at home in love and kindness. I am reminded often by Dulcie that God has given me a big voice that can sound mean at times. I have to work on sounding loving and kind while getting their attention. One of the easiest ways is to just have those conversations privately rather than publicly. If YOU need to release your guilt of un-involvement, don’t embarrass them! Make the time to text, call, message, or speak to them away from the action and noise of friends. A little every day is more important than a lot on Saturday.
The Bible teaches that we are not to exasperate our children. If we believe that to mean never make them mad then I have failed miserably. However, I understand it to mean to provide for their needs even when they don’t see it. We are to be there when they need us even if they do not want us. As they grow and mature they will not need us as often but will want us and we can invest in a rich friendship for years to come.