It’s never fun following through in those tough parenting moments. In fact, you might second guess what you should be doing at any given time. Welcome to parenting!
I know one thing, I believe it’s important to not lie to your kids. What does that mean? It means that if you say you are going to do something as a consequence, you need to follow through. Is it enjoyable? No. Is it easy? No. However, it teaches our kids that “I meant what I say and I say what I meant.” The Bible urges us in Matthew 5:37, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.'” Children will be less apt to walk all over you, fall into a habit of disobedience and test their boundaries when the boundaries are clear. If you want to know why I believe in authoritative parenting, read here.
I want to share a peek into our family to show you our own journey of following through in those tough parenting moments. As we consider how to best raise our kids, I think it’s helpful to hear how others handle these kind of parenting crossroads.
Following Through in Those Tough Parenting Moments
We had been having a wonderful weekend. There were our typical, much-celebrated Friday traditions. Saturday morning we went to a parade with extended family followed by lunch out. Next, we decided to go explore. It was a chilly day, but it wasn’t raining, and we decided to go down to the Puget Sound and have some beach time, playing among the gorgeous driftwood. (Follow along on Instagram to get a broader peek into our family life)
On Sunday morning, we woke up and headed to church. The kids had a great time at pageant rehearsal, coming home and singing their songs and showing off their dances. We bought tickets for an afternoon movie to keep the fun going.
Before leaving, the kids had some responsibilities to follow through on. These weren’t huge requests and shouldn’t have taken too long but one of our kids decided to dig-in and fight it the whole way. The attitude became ugly. We had actually been struggling during spring break with some attitude issues with this particular child, and these sin issues were revealing themselves again.
To tackle the issue, the movie was at risk. If this child was unwilling to take care of responsibilities, we couldn’t reward with a movie. Surely this would change the behavior. It didn’t.
Then came the hard discussion. How do we follow through on this one? Do we give a different punishment? We already purchased the tickets. We would have to eat the $16. I suggested we find a friend who was willing to take her. We would want that time there to not be a reward. The family could let her read, color or do her homework on her own. I know we have friends who could and would be willing to handle it, but my husband didn’t want to subject friends to a child who was already pushing the boundaries. He was right.
We had been looking forward to the movie and didn’t want to punish ourselves, but it seemed like the only option. I volunteered to stay behind, but my husband fell on the sword for me. We found two friends to take the tickets, and my husband and child stayed behind where she could learn to follow through on her jobs with a right attitude.
It ended up being a blessing for the friends that joined us, and my child was learning a valuable lesson. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ That’s what we want for our children! – Ephesians 6:1-3
I know there will be tougher consequences we will need to follow through on in the future. This just gives a taste of the kind of hard decisions we have to make as a parent. However, when we follow through on these moments when they are younger, they’ll know we mean what we say in the future.
There are parenting mentors and friends that I respect. I see the results of what they do, and I’m encouraged. Some of these families intentionally plan fun outings when they see a child on the wrong track. They’ll say, “We’re all going to ice cream. I’m so sorry you won’t be able to join us.” The grandparents then step in to watch the child while the others go off on an adventure. I know it can seem cruel, but it’s a teachable moment that helps yield more consistently positive behavior. Having a child that has behavior that is desirable leads to more positive energy and better relationships within the family.
Trying to find the balance of truth and grace is challenging, but I encourage you to walk the harder road of parenting when needed because I do believe it will lead to clearer paths in the future.