Recently, “The Tennessean” featured a chef I wish I could meet. When he was asked what’s the secret to creating great food?, he answered: Start with the best ingredients and don’t mess them up. With my passion for parenting, I immediately thought of this as a parenting lesson. So please let me rant a bit by sharing these, somewhat scattered, thoughts.
We parents start with the best ingredients! More than ninety-seven percent of babies are born perfect, filled with love, over flowing with grace, anxious to learn, and carrying a message from their creator. But we tend to mess them up!
We teach them to lie, cheat, and even to hate! How, you might ask, do we do these wicked things? Let me explain.
We want to give them “self-esteem” so we tell them they are doing a “great job” and give them a trophy, when, in fact, they are barely even participating.
We ask them who broke the vase, spilled the milk, or tracked mud into the house when we know they did it. Their only way out is lie and say “I don’t know”, blame the dog, or one of the neighbors.
We take them out of school to go shopping and give them a note saying they missed school because they were sick!
We wait on them day and night and ask nothing in return and wonder why they develop an entitlement mentality.
We put them in their car seats, put on a video, plug in our ear buds and listen to music, or talk on the phone, and complain that our kids won’t talk to us.
We let them listen while we brag to our new friends how much we drank in high school or college then we tell them not to drink.
We drop them off at church for Sunday-School then go have coffee and a doughnut and return in time to pick them up and cry that our teens don’t want to go to church.
We find time to take them to dance class, gymnastics, rugby, soccer, football, karate, music lessons, voice lessons, perhaps even to a tutor, but never have time to sit with them at the kitchen table and eat dinner. Often times our hearts are in the right place, but our minds give in to their every want.
The philosophers tell us we are where we are because of the decisions we made. Our kids, too, are where they are because of our decisions.
Parenting need not be hard if we try to simplify things, reduce our kid’s dependence on us, teach them responsibility, and model the people we want them to become!
Some years ago I was a guest on a “call-in” radio, parenting show. Toward the end of the show one young father called in and said, “It seems everything we do is important!” “Yes”, I told him, “everything is!”
Try to be the kind of person you want your child to become. Talk and laugh more with your kids and your spouse; eat together, study together, play together, and sleep together (obviously not all in the same bed, but all at the same time).
But, be in charge, be the parent, set limits, let them know what you think and why you think it! Ask frequently what they think and why! You teach all the time, even when you don’t know o
r think you are teaching, so make a conscience effort to teach, teach, and teach! Remember, that we teach more and better by our actions than our words.
Surely, not all parents do all these bad things. Most parents do a great job! That’s why most kids are great kids who become adults of character, but not all do.
But, what do you do if your teenager gets into some kind of trouble? Most of the time, it’s not your fault. You did what you thought was right, he had a chance to learn right from wrong, he obviously choose to do wrong.
Your heart may be broken, but you know you will always find a fragment of your heart which still loves him. Embrace him, love him, and stay connected with him. Give him space to realize and appreciate your care. Don’t nag him, and please don’t keep bringing up the past. If you remember it, so will he! If you’re troubled about his past, believe me, he is too.
Pray and hope that he will have learned from this bad experience and will return to you like the Biblical Prodigal Son. If he does, open your arms to him. Celebrate him and his return, let the past go! Until then, never give up hope!
I just wanted to share some of the thoughts that chef brought to my mind and try to make parenting a little easier, prevent parents from screwing up, and keep more kids on the right path. I hope this helped a bit!
A big thank you, to all you parents who continue to raise kids everyone admires! The whole world appreciates you, and so do I!
Thanks too, for the Tennessean and the Chef who inspired me.