This summer I've spent a good deal of time thinking about my parenting style. Having a bunch of small, love-sucking, time-eating, attention-grabbing offspring will do that to you. I adore their sticky faces with all my heart and just want to make their life a happy one.
Which is why THIS article stood out to me and sent me reeling.
*Warning - the author drops the frickle bomb.*
The idea, essentially (though I think you should read the article), is that parents can actually MAKE their children unhappy as adults by making them too happy as children.
Right. So by trying to be too tapped in, or "attuned" to our children's needs, by trying to keep them from experiencing pain or punishments we're actually warping our children's ability to handle later disappointments. (a.k.a. LIFE)
What I'm trying to get at is that this article has actually made me feel BETTER about my job as a mother up to this point. I really, really thought that I was possibly screwing my kids up by making them work out fights on their own. And I worried that the punishments I affixed to their continuous child-crime sprees were going to leave them alienated from me one day, rather than calling my name blessed.
Like today, for instance. During the sacrament portion of church my children insisted on using the pew as a WWF ring. I was beginning to think that perhaps the floor had been enhanced with some sort of trampoline-like surface and that's why my kids couldn't stop jumping like wild hyenas drunk on moonshine. So I did what I do. When we got home the two worst perpetrators (Miles and Sophia - my MIDDLE children. Talk about guilt! Perhaps they were just crying out for my attention because they are so neglected! Oh the horror!) were placed on the couch and had to sit (upright with arms folded) in complete silence for 20 minutes. And when they started talking the timer was reset and we started over. And we did that for close to 40 minutes. And that wasn't our first time at the rodeo, folks. These kids know all about the post-church couch treatment.
Afterwards we had a nice little talk about how their inattentive behavior makes it hard to me to feel the Spirit and think about Jesus. And more importantly it makes it hard for THEM to feel the Spirit and think about Jesus. And next week we're all going to try a little harder because, by golly, "I just know you can do it."
But then I got to thinking, "Maybe I'm scarring them. Maybe they're going to grow up and rebel and hate me and hate church and hate life and hate everything but hate."
OR maybe they're just feeling the consequence of their actions. Maybe, in order for them to grow into useful, productive adults (dare I say, HAPPY adults?) they have to have some really painful, difficult experiences in the loving environment of our home, dished out by the loving enforcers of our home (that's me - and I think maybe I'm going to put that title on a badge).
I don't know. Maybe they'll still grow up to hate me one day. But maybe not.