Have you ever tried to convince a child or teenager to do something they don’t want to do? Or set boundaries on things they think should be unrestricted? We have, and it seems like we have done this a lot lately.
And all three of the boys resist. We have the oldest who uses sarcastic remarks to continue his argument, the middle boy who is very persuasive (which is still arguing), and the youngest who must have the last word, and tries to assert his last word with authority. No matter the differences in their responses, obedience is not the first response. Resistance is. And sometimes I laugh to myself at how hard headed they are, and I have peace knowing that someday they will actually appreciate all of our rules.
But sometimes, I feel worn thin, exhausted, and my ability to push them to obedience slacks off. Its not that I “want” to give in, so much as I don’t want to argue anymore. I don’t want to remind them to obey, for the bazillionth time. But this doesn’t do anybody any favors, and I’m learning that every time I cave, it fuels their fire (and argument) for the next “battle”.
I wish I was about to write some really profound thought that strengthens me to be strong, stand firm, and require obedience. But honestly, I’m still waiting for the thought. All I have is an observation:
While the child can be rather ugly during the resistance, the result on the other side, once obedience has been required and carried out, is astonishing. At first, I notice a case of the grumpies, where everyone wants to knit-pick each other, tattle, and make certain they aren’t the only ones being pushed to obey. But the next thing I noticed, surprised me. There is peace in our home, and the boys lighten up and liven up.
In fact, it is as if requiring their obedience gives them a sense of security that no blanket, no heater, no warm cooked meal, no hug, can give. Knowing what is expected of them, whether or not they want to obey in the beginning, takes a weight off their shoulders that allows them to be kids. A pastor that I highly respect once told me that without boundaries, kids do not understand love. Love comes with healthy boundaries, for the safety and security of the person loved. Love doesn’t give in to all of the wants and whines of childhood, but sets boundaries that encourage us to grow, do, and be better.
I used to interpret this as a conditional love… you know, “I love you, if you are being good.” But I think it’s more like, “Because I love you, I am guiding you.” I love you doesn’t mean I let you run the show, I let you do what you want, I let you get away with…, I let you have free access to…, etc.
Maybe that is the profound thought I need to be strong during the resistance. The people on the other side of the resistance, once they have not won, have not gotten their way, and have accomplished obedience, seem to find peace and security in the boundaries.
Have you noticed this with your kids?