Taking the Harder Road of Parenting


As our kids get older, I find I'm hearing Rob say a lot, "Let's try to make this into a teaching moment too," when something, or usually, someone, gets into a little bit of hot water.

I guess sometimes my instinct is to just get mad, and then dish out the consequences and let the pieces fall where they may.

But Rob brings in the "teaching opportunity" mentality, wanting the kids to learn as many valuable lessons as possible from their experiences.

While I fully support this philosophy, and am so grateful that he often reminds me, and can very quickly switch into "teaching opportunity mode" rather than "bite your head off mode," I mentioned to him the other day that this is the "harder way to do things".

Mountain road in Turkey

Life seems to be so much easier for you as a parent in the short term when you simply say "Yes" to everything. I think it's a little harder when you say "No" all the time, because then you may had to deal with some backlash over the fact that you are saying no.

But to try to really think about why you are saying yes or no, to be cognizant of the potential long term ramifications of choices and decisions, to explain, guide and consult, to not always be the popular parent -- that is much harder.

I especially find it challenging within the context of a blended family. I know that in traditional families it's hard too -- so I'm not discounting that. But I look at situations that we have recently dealt with with one of my step kids, and it gets really complicated when you are the step parent.

The whole "you have the responsibility but not the authority" angle. If I do something maternal, and treat my step kids as my own, or teach my values and share my thoughts, opinions and positions, I face the, "Who does she think she is? She's not your mother. She has no say in anything you do." And if I don't care, then I can face the wrath of, "What does she care. If you were her biological children she'd be doing more".

So, my choice -- and really -- it is the choice I made the moment I married Rob, is the former. I care. I teach. I stress. I worry. I get angry. I get disappointed. I feel proud. I feel excitement. I feel love. I go through all the emotions. For my biological kids and for my step kids.

But then I stopped the other day and said to Rob, "This is a harder road we are choosing."

We are constantly sharing examples with the kids, asking them about their choices, having discussions with them, explaining our theories, perspective, points of view, making analogies and comparisons, reading to them, praying with and for them, telling them quotes, having Family Home Evening, drawing out little flow charts and diagrams -- all trying to get them to understand what is behind the yes or no that they are hoping for. I want them to be making their own choices and decisions, with the free agency they have been given -- BUT armed with knowledge and information about those choices and the natural consequences tied to them. Because when you make a choice, you are automatically getting some consequences along with that choice -- like it or not.

I know that they are young and one little decision or slip up does not seemingly change much in the whole grand scheme of things.


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