Today I got to thinking about how far from my childhood I have come as a parent. My parents liked to use - if not the words - at least the "Because I said so" mentality. You were a child. You were to be seen and not heard.
But the other day, I asked one of my kids to do something, and they did what they "thought" I wanted instead, and I actually heard myself say, "Don't think, just do what I say." *gasp*
This is absolutely the opposite of what I want my children to do.
I always want them to think.
I never want them to do something just because someone says so without evaluating it - not with anal intensity, but with common sense, practicality, wisdom.
I couldn't believe I said it - but I heard myself and made a speedy correction.
The thing is that in a relationship of mutual respect and trust, cooperation comes more readily. It has taken me a long time to learn this. It has been a trip to learn that I don't have to control my kids or exert authority over them because I have the power to do so. This is the kind of parent that God is with me - He allows natural consequences of my actions, but He never exerts the power that is His just because He can.
I do not always do this well -often reverting to the natural hard-wiring. Today we were in the car and I asked Kaitlyn to squirt some hand-sanitizer in her brother's hand. Instead she gave it to him. I had a list of reasons why I wanted her to do it the way I said it - it wouldn't get put away, it gets laid on the floor, stepped on, and squirted across the carpet, it won't be where it should be when we need it again, etc. I just didn't want to take the time to tell her all of them. I got aggravated with her when she did it "her" way instead of mine, instead of letting her know why it was important to do it the way I requested. The thing is - if one of my friends were in the car, and did just the same thing, I would take the time to explain it to them. Why do my kids deserve any less? What do I teach them when I get aggravated and irritated and expect blind obedience instead of sharing with them why it matters to me that it is done a certain way.
This is just one example - maybe some of you are thinking - so what about the dang hand sanitizer. This is just the most recent example I have - work with me!