God empowers parents to teach kids love and respect

When it comes to raising children, one can get overwhelmed with the load of information found on bookstore shelves as well as the Internet. Everyone has their own opinion. Spanking or not spanking. Time out or no time out. Opinions diverge from complete leniency to terrible tyranny. And we are often left wondering whether our parenting skills are good, bad or mediocre. How are parents to know if their children are being properly nourished to thrive in this world?

Parenting has certainly changed a lot since my parents’ generation. Many things changed for the better, but I am afraid that other things have changed for worse. A walk in the mall and one can validate this truth: We are raising a generation that has little respect for common courtesy and discipline. I don’t remember seeing toddlers screaming as their mothers dragged them along the grocery stores in my day. Kids knew better. Our parents did not allow us to have fits without consequence. Parents were parents. Not their children’s friends. And I think that is part of the problem. Many are trying to be their children’s buddies instead of their authority figure.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe there is a place for complacency and much grace in parenting. I believe we should pick our battles with our children to avoid becoming tyrants rather than parents. I believe we must forgive quickly and love much. But that does not mean that bad attitudes should not be addressed and corrected.

Nowadays, children talk back to their parents without consequences. Young girls are allowed to choose inappropriate clothes and are given contraceptives at a very young age. Exactly what are we trying to accomplish? Is it that it is easier to empower them to do whatever they want to do, rather than to teach them right from wrong? Is it that we are so afraid of being called “uncool” that we forgot that there are consequences for bad choices? Are we so eager to be loved by our children that we are willing to risk their future as we become lenient to their choices at a very young age?

I look forward to the day when my two girls will be my friends. I know that day is coming. We will talk about their problems and take our walks together in the park as good friends do. But that is for later. Right now, I am their mom. I am still the one who kisses their boo-boos and makes things better. But I am also the one who must consistently show them right from wrong. When God chose me to bear two girls, he entrusted me with two of his precious children. He has a plan for each of them and I refuse to think that plan is mediocre. One of my role as parent is to empower them and help enable them to become all they’re called to be. We cannot do that without teaching them that there are consequences to bad choices and that they must respect the people around them.

Call me old fashioned, but I choose to be mom today. I will love on them and be silly with them. I will sit down as my tween shares her struggles and I will give them ice cream in the middle of the week. But I am also the one who will not allow them to talk back to me or any other adult. Or scream in public because they did not get their way. I’m their mom and they know it. And given the love they pour on me every day, we’re doing just fine that way.

Patricia Holbrook is a Bible teacher , writer and national conference speaker . She lives in Kennesaw with her husband and two daughters. Visit her blog to read her devotionals: www.soaringwithHim.com or email: pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com