Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

“He’s eating grasshoppers.”

“What?”

“He’s eating grasshoppers. The other kids saw it and reported it to the lunchroom lady.”

“Well, Johnny has always been difficult and unusual. He’s not like the others. He’s been a difficult, determined child…”

“Has he been tested? At times he seems almost autistic. I’d have him checked. We can recommend someone.”

“No, he’s not autistic. Maybe a bit ADHD or OCD.”

“It’s not just the grasshoppers. He stands by the drinking fountain and shouts at the rest the kids to ‘repent’ and then he splashes water on them.”

“Well, his father, Zach, and I…as you can see, we’re not young…we try…. Zach retired from the Temple when Johnny finished kindergarten. It hasn’t been easy…he’s talked with counselors at The Temple Clinic. They say he has guilt issues. They’ve never seen anyone so obsessed with confessing mistakes. But really, it’s only a little splashing, right?”

“And then there are the dippings.”

“The dippings?”

“Yes. Whenever one of his little friends say they are sorry for whatever, he dips them in the fountain. When the older students walk by and make fun of him, he yells at them. Things like, “Judgment is approaching! Hypocrites! Repent and be baptized!”

“Hmm. I was wondering why his camel shirt was always so wet after school.”

“Yes, and the camel shirt. What’s with the camel shirt? All the other nice children wear clean linen shirts and broadcloth trousers. John looks hideous! I’ve a mind to call Children’s Services!”

“We’ve tried with the clothes. There must be ten linen shirts in his closet. But every day. Camel shirt.”

“Well, Elizabeth, I know this is difficult, but John has been given three days of ISS for cutting up in the lunchroom — making noise and splashing children. If things continue to spiral out of hand, John will be dismissed.”

“I understand. You know, he’s really a good boy. He’s just misunderstood. He never hurts anyone and you should see the way he plays with my cousin Mary’s boy. They talk about changing the world! They are inseparable. Zach and I try our best to influence Johnny to love and serve God and others, but we can’t control his choices at school. Do you think ISS is going to help him?”

“Well, we’ll see. This must stop. The kids are starting to call him ‘the baptizer’ and he makes the faculty nervous.”

Tr8: Influence. We influence our children, but we do not choose for them (except as infants). They grow into free agents (baptizers, saviors, doctors, bakers, etc.) quickly and start choice-making within a year of birth. While we cannot choose for them, we can present them good choices. As time goes on, prepared choices become fewer and fewer. Choosing for them can also be dangerous — adults don’t survive on their parent’s faith. Sadly, some children become bad decision-makers. We survive by trusting God and our children.

Orchestrate choices while you can. Children need practice in making wise decisions. Perhaps the best way is to embrace choosing as a life skill. If I could do it over again, I’d have done this more. I’d treat making choices like brushing teeth. It isn’t a tacit act, it’s purposeful. Decisions 101: 1) What will happen next? 2) Will this hurt me or someone else? 3) What if everyone does this? 4) Would Jesus do this? and 5) What is the story I want to tell others with this decision?

Review the steps to making a good decision often. The more directed practice a child gets before adolescence, the better. Practice praying for wise decisions. Celebrate wise decisions and reboot after bad ones.

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Once there was a nice couple who had a son and daughter (who remarkably resembled actors).

The son graduated from college and entered the family business.

The daughter stole from everyone to fund her cigarette, alcohol, and prescription drug habits. After a serious surgery, she stole her mother’s pain medication. She aborted her first child as a teenager. She quit school. She was in one abusive relationship after another.

When the parents offered to help she became angry.

She hated them.

She left and rarely came home. The parents knew she returned secretly because things were missing.

One night, under the influence of hydrocodone, she put her newborn in the front seat of her car to go for cigarettes. She crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic. The other driver was killed and the child was lost.

The daughter went to prison. She became a lesbian and tattooed her lover’s name on her forearm. She refused see her parents when they visited. After three years she was granted parole. By this time she realized how good she had it at home and decided to return. She planned an apology and request to work as cleaning lady in the family business.

When she got off the bus she was surprised to find her parents waiting.  She said, “I’m really messed up. I’ve…I’m…”

Before she could say another word her parents embraced her. They took her shopping, to a salon, and made evening reservations for four at her favorite restaurant.

When it was time to go, the mother noticed the older brother had not come downstairs. The mother knocked on his door and said, “Why don’t you come down? We’re taking your sister out.”

“Hell, I’ve been working for you slave-drivers for years and you’ve never gotten this excited about me! Sis is a world-class screw-up and you want to take her out on the town?”

“Plus, she stole my iPhone.”

“Son, we replaced your iPhone — you have everything! …and we’ve taken you out dozens of times. We love both of you regardless of what you’ve done. Don’t you see? We had to celebrate and be glad, because your sister was all but dead and now she is alive again. She was in prison, but is home!”

The son only grew angrier. He stomped out of the house and drove off in the new car his parents bought for him.

He hated them.

This is a true adaptation of a story told by someone else about events that happened to people who don’t exist to demonstrate a point.  

Republished from April 23, 2012