I held up a finger when she opened my bedroom door, reminding her I was on an important call and didn’t want to be interrupted.
But she ignored my attempt to quiet her and asked the question loudly as if MY ONE FINGER in the air meant nothing.
I pointed again, more forcefully. My 7 year old kept right on talking.
Even my most threatening face didn’t stop her.
This must be really important, I thought.
I said excuse me to the professional on the receiver, covered the mouthpiece and whispered through gritted teeth, “WHAT IS IT?”
She took a tiny step backward and said, “I don’t know what to do. I’m bored.”
It was nearly a poltergeist moment for me.
“Go play. Give me 5 more minutes,” I said seething.
“But mom, I need you to tell me what to do.”
The rest of the phone call occurred with me sitting on the closed toilet behind a locked door.
When I hung up a few minutes later, I kept thinking about my daughter’s words. I need you to tell me what to do.
I’m not a stranger to a child-centered home. For years, we let our kids determine restaurants we ate at, we gave them ample choices, we backed down from consequences, we centered our lives around their extracurricular activities, we added fun kid stuff to every weekend so they wouldn’t be bored, and when they asked us what they were supposed to do for fun, we told them. Some days, we still reap the effects of it.
And then, a few years ago, we started to shift to a Jesus-centered home. Instead of child worship, where we bowed to every whim and demand from our kids, we refocused and prioritized our lives. My children didn’t stop being important. We didn’t stop loving them unconditionally or stop meeting their needs. We just stopped trying to fix every problem and giving in to every desire.
Last week, I told you how serving turned our home right-side up. It’s never too early to start or too late to try. We started by picking a few things off this list: 100 Ways to Make a Difference As a Family.
Listen, humans are naturally self-centered. We want what we want. Our kids are no different.
If we build our home around their every want, they will let us.
And it may seem easier because kids who always get what they want seem “happy.”
Until they don’t get what they want.
And then watch out.
My greatest calling is being a mom. I love my children and I’m grateful for them. But that doesn’t mean they are the sun and I should orbit around them in submission.
When we center our homes around the wants and demands of our kids, we are actually hurting them, not helping.
Here are five risks of a child-centered home:
- It gives kids the false security that the world is about them- We can build our world around our kids, but the world won’t return the favor. Sooner or later-in school or at a first job, they will discover life isn’t always fair and they can’t always get out of sticky situations.
- It puts a strain on our marriage-it’s easy to put children in front of spouses and when we put kids at the center of the home, things get out of balance, including our marriages.
- It reinforces selfishness-kids don’t need to be taught selfishness. “Mine” is usually one of their first words. But constantly letting the world revolve around their demand and wishes, only reinforces selfishness.
- It puts a responsibility and pressure on children they weren’t meant to carry. Kids weren’t designed to carry the burden of getting their way all the time. Not only is it unhealthy, I believe kids want restrictions and guidelines. It’s another way we show them how much we love them.
- It makes them a challenge outside of home (school, church, etc). Enough said.
Refocusing our homes, centering them around Christ instead of our children isn’t easy. It takes consistent, hard work. And when our kids are begging for us to tell them what to do, we should hide in the bathroom. Or give them time to answer their own question.
Oh, and I found the perfect thing for my daughter to do. Her room has never looked better.