Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Tight Rope

Last night, my friend Emmy sent me a great passage written by John Eldredge.

"Children need two basic messages when they are growing up: You are loved more than you can possibly imagine, and, You are not the center of the universe. Without the first, a child will grow up insecure, uncertain, looking for love and finding it difficult to believe that he is worthy of being loved, even by God. Without the second, he will grow up selfish and self-centered, assuming that everyone else’s agenda bows to his own. No doubt you know both sorts of men."

I whole-heartedly agree with Eldredge's words. Modelling unconditional love seems simple enough. It is often like a lightening bolt to my heart when I look across the room at my precious offspring. I love them so much it hurts. I tell them constantly how loved they are...and hope my actions, even when flawed, portray my love even more clearly.

Likewise, insuring that our children do not grow up with a self-centered worldview is a no-brainer on the surface. One of the lessons a family structure should teach children is that we must live in community. No one of us are the center of the universe.

The "how to" balance these two truths in practical daily application is where I am struggling. Lately I find myself on the tight rope of managing these two seemingly polar-opposite tasks. I love, love, love these little people--but that true love makes discipline necessary.

Love is often communicated through responsiveness and quality time, yet I don't want to train my children to believe their every want or whim will be granted. This means sometimes telling them I cannot play or read them a story or meet some other nonessential request immediately. Sometimes it is because I have higher priority tasks, like laundry, bill paying, food preparation, etc...Other times it is just because I am tired, or I just would rather do something else. I don't want to raise self-centered little people. Yet, honestly, my motive is too often self-centered.

Isn't it humbling how God uses us, in all our imperfection, to raise up our children for His Glory? One thing is for sure, I am a living testimony for my children of one who needs Him. All day. Every day.

6 comments:

Lisa said...

Truer words were never spoken. What a great post. Eldredge's words make perfect sense. Thanks for the reminder to keep things in balance around here!

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing that quote. I'm sure I've read it in the past, but my brain is porous these days.

My husband and I talk often about how to balance these concepts. He grew up as an orphaned gutter rat in a foreign country, which left him with very strong feelings about raising kids without entitlement attitudes.

But at the same time, we both want them to know the unconditional love and acceptance he never had as a child.

Balance is always tricky. I'm not even sure I'd try without God's help.

Sallie said...

Those two quotes are great.. My daughter has started sharing the kitchen responsibilities in our house and I didn't even ask. It just sort of came about. Her brothers compliment her cooking and so she wants to do it even more. Boys love food and if sissy's going to give it to them, they want to be nice and loving :-)They continue to be sweet even when she's not in the kitchen and it's been amazing to watch that happen..

Thanks for this great post!
God bless,
Sallie

Jacob and Andi said...

Great post!

keri said...

that is a terrific quote. we heard the same concept in reading "How Children Raise Parents" by Dan Allender. our children must know we love them and they will not always get their way. and i'm with you...it is hard to find balance between those!

HW said...

This makes me think of our current struggle raising two teenagers (16 and 13) in today's world of overscheduled children. We are constantly trying to figure out how to foster our childrens' interests and passions without letting THEIR schedule run our family. We are very familiar with the tight rope.
Thanks again for your great thoughts.