I remember years ago when a car alarm went off in a grocery store parking lot and people paid attention; yes, I know – that reveals I’m edging towards old! So many alarms later, we now often hear them as a nuisance instead of an invitation to be aware.
I wonder if that’s how we feel about blogs and articles about our role as parents. We’ve been warned to be sure and do this, and be sure not to do that, so many times…how do you sort through to find any real wisdom?
I’ll take a risk that you’re still reading to sound a warning of a well-planned scam; this one’s like giving candy to a baby. Literally.
Let’s begin with that idea – giving candy to a baby.
Why would we choose to do that?
- We want to see the baby smile!
- We want to give the baby something fun.
- We want to comfort the baby.
If we’re honest, other reasons may include:
- The baby doesn’t like to be told “no.”
- We want the baby to be quiet.
- We want to be the favorite parent or grandparent.
This candy example is easier than most; we don’t have to try hard to answer this question,too:
Why would choose not to give candy to a baby?
- Sugar is not a healthy snack and is bad for the baby’s teeth.
- Candy may spoil the baby’s appetite.
- There are more appropriate ways to give the baby comfort.
Comforting a baby – and introducing them to “fun” – is a slippery slope; beware of comfort that comes with handcuffs and brass knuckles.
I know you’ve recognized this blog isn’t just about settling a baby; babies grow up to be toddlers, children, and young adults. The way we respond to our children – and the solutions we offer them – will either lead them on a beautiful road to freedom, or hand them the handcuffs of addiction and the brass knuckles that help them just win the next fight.
How do we begin to lead our children on the road to freedom instead of to a padded cell? Try this one distinction:
Offer “deeply satisfying” instead of “cheap thrills.”
A few other words that may clarify:
Let your primary motive be contentment, rather than comfort. Think long term maturity, instead of short term pain relief.
I hear you. “But my children love cheap thrills! My children demand immediate pain relief!”
You may be too exhausted to yell, but you’re lips are forming the whisper, “I’m so tired; can’t I please just choose the path of least resistance?”
If you’re real vulnerable, you may want to admit, “I’m afraid of rejection; if I don’t give them what they want, will our relationship last?” This one is especially painful in families who have experienced divorce.
Can I give you some grace? Yes, grace is unconditional love – no judgement, no condemnation, true empathy. You aren’t alone. Others are struggling with this. Me, too.
And grace is also the strength of unwavering truth. Without truth, grace loses some of its power and gets confused with coddling. I care about you too much to bend the truth for you.
The role of a parent is to be one who can be trusted; sometimes that comes with the price of not being liked at the moment. When comfort is my primary motive, it’s a trap; comfort is a great companion on the high road, but it’s a terrible master on the wide, low road.
Comfort, as my goal, is a never satisfied monster. It’s never satisfied because it is often a pain-reliever instead of a real resolver of hurts and feelings. It’s just a band-aid. Or a shovel used to hide real issues. Instant gratification rarely lasts longer than an instant.
Contentment brings resolution, forgiveness, and real healing. We learn words to go with our struggles, and begin to resolve our feelings instead of numb them. Healing strengthens relationships; we bond on real and beautiful, instead of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and screens.
Trusting relationships offer us love to meet our real needs; we develop mature appetites, instead of cravings for cheap thrills. Patience and self-control are the fruit of abiding in truth instead of candy. Joy is a fun fruit, too.
I look forward to your comments and questions; I’d love to hear your thoughts and struggles as you offer deeply satisfying instead of cheap thrills.