Parenting: Why It’s More Important to Be Wise Than Generous

“But, Mom, please

I knew what my answer had to be.

Sneakers and Mini Daisies

But it wasn’t going to be easy.

Sometimes right before I tell my kids no, that split second before the word comes out of my mouth, I am afraid.

I am afraid to be strong.

I am afraid I can’t follow through.

I am afraid of what will happen when I say no.

I think every parent knows this fear.

Because it’s often easier to be generous than wise.

Lately, it seems the harder we work at raising grateful, hard working kids that put others first, the harder the job gets.

And when kids resist chores and grumble about dinner, slam doors and argue constantly with their siblings, it makes a parent feel like a complete failure.

We had all of the above going on at the same time the other night.

My husband and I left our kids to clean up dinner dishes and locked ourselves behind our bedroom door. And we asked questions we couldn’t answer: Why is parenting to hard? Are we doing this right? Do we have wine?

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We reassured each other with these truths: It’s okay for children to be temporarily unhappy and their resistance doesn’t mean our failure.

But it’s not going to be easy.

Easy is saying yes to cultural norms.

Easy is giving in to demands.

Easy is being like everyone else.

Sticking to standards, saying no, choosing wisdom over generosity is hard.

I think parental generosity comes naturally. We want to give our kids what we didn’t have, we want to see their faces light up. We want them to be “happy.”

But when we give in too early, too soon or too much, or just because standing our ground is tough, we lose more than we might think. When we cower to an unsatisfied child we both lose.

I’m sure that’s why there are triumphant toddlers leading the shopping trips at Target, young kids playing teen-rated video games and high schoolers in brand new Mercedes. AmIright?

But generosity like this–born out of fear–can be dangerous. Because when we give too much, too soon, we exchange hard work and the hard knocks of life for the easy road. And sometimes the easy road, is also a dangerous one.

And this societal norm of giving kids what they want is causing destruction.

Generosity is great. It’s freely giving to our children. But wisdom is more important because it gives us the insight when to be generous and the courage to say no when our world is saying yes, more, now.

Back in the kitchen, I answered her question. “No, I’m sorry. You’re grounded for the day, remember?”

I braced myself and stood my ground and calmly suggested another day.

When I returned later, that same child was humming in the kitchen, making dessert for the rest of the family. There wasn’t pouting. The anger was long gone. She didn’t ask again.

Sometimes our kids ask for something or demand their way, not to get us to say yes, but to see if we will stick with no.

And sometimes our wisdom begets their generosity.

Moms, don’t give in.

But mostly, don’t give up.


WFMW: Yes to the Unknown

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Tanya for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I sat across the desk from a caseworker who asked if I would care for my friend’s child. My friend and her husband had made some decisions that compromised their health. While they worked to regain their well-being, their child needed a home.

In the span of moments, I breathed a prayer while dialing my husband. I explained to him the decision we needed to make in the next 60 seconds. He says, “What do you want to do? I’ll back you up, either way.”

I said, “I think we are supposed to do this. Our friends need to see “Jesus with skin on” because they have been lost in a dark, dark place. They need to see the light of Christ standing in the gap, not just someone spouting “I’ll pray for you” platitudes.” My husband agreed.

Kristen says, “There were times it was downright scary and it didn’t feel safe.
Saying yes will cost you something. It will challenge and stretch you.”

I gathered up all of my courage and told the caseworker, “Okay. We’ll keep him.”

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Those words were my yes. I knew my yes would change things for the toddler we would care for. But I didn’t know my yes would change me, change my husband, change my children – for the better. Those words helped all of us step out of our comfortable, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-entitled suburban way of life.

As Kristen said“This journey has taught me so much about my family.” In the months since we said yes, our family has lost much. We’ve lost hours of sleep. We’ve lost a sippy cup and diaper-free household. We’ve lost a few date nights. We’ve lost carefree, lazy weekends. We’ve lost family vacations.

However, when compared, we have gained so much more. We’ve gained hours of laughter and giggles. We’ve gained an energetic routine. We’ve gained a little firecracker that keeps us on our toes. We’ve gained the wonder of seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler. We’ve gained a common goal that allows us to work together as a family to help others. We’ve gained the knowledge that God gives us what we need, when we ask him for it.

Occasionally, we forget how all of this started. We start worrying about details. We worry about how all of this will turn out in the end. We worry his parents won’t get better and that he will become a ward of the state. And truthfully, some days we worry they will get better and the daily noise and chaos we have come to enjoy will fade away. We worry about what his life and our life will be like when he returns home. We worry about the things we can’t control.

But here’s the deal: when God is in it,
He doesn’t need us to control a thing.”
Kristen Welch, Rhinestone Jesus.

In those moments when we forget, God always finds a way to remind us. He is present. He knows about it all. He’s in control. He reminds us that our job is to trust him and to obey his call – all we have to do is say yes.

Author Bio: Tanya Ehrler is a wife and mother. She spends her days homeschooling her two boys, and tries to live out her life’s motto: Love God, Serve Others, Show the Way.

Tanya blogs at Truly, TexasTanya and writes about family, homeschooling, adoption, foster care, photography and her occasional dabbling in the kitchen.

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