I stumbled across this kernel of wisdom while reading one of my daily devotionals from David Jeremiah. Sometimes it’s the scripture verse he references or the message he offers that speaks to me. But sometimes, it’s the quote at the bottom of the page that leaves the biggest impact.
This one made me think. About my own kids and what kind of life I offer them. About other kids I know and the life they live. It’s all about perspective.
I started this blog as a way to support other Mommies who find it hard to, well. . . .be a mommy! I’m not a natural. I find it easier to nurture my cats. I love my kids. But my kids aren’t my life. There is so much more to me as a person than “mommy”.
I know there are other moms out there who feel the same way. And you probably struggle with the same sense of guilt that I do. (If not. . . .well, aren’t you special?) There are plenty of times I know I could’ve been kinder, gentler, softer, more patient, more understanding, etc. I have plenty of regrets. I’ve told them I’m sorry and asked for forgiveness. Thankfully, my kids still wake up every morning loving me.
However, reading this statement eased some of that guilt. I’m hard on my kids. I have big expectations for them. I know what they’re capable of, especially when they fall short. I don’t let them off the hook easily or give in to tears. I’ve told them to “Suck it up!” or “Cowboy up!” or “Deal with it!” so many times I should be paid for it.
Why am I hard on my kids?
Because the real world is hard!
I refuse to raise kids who will go out into the world expecting it to bend to their wishes and whims, to give in when they whine, or give them a pass when they’re too tired. IT WON’T HAPPEN!
I want them prepared to face the truth that it’s going to be hard.
That they will get their feelings hurt.
That they will have to put their time and energy into things they may not want to do.
That they will not get rewarded for effort, but results.
That they will have to budget to pay rent and grocery bills before anything fun.
That no one will be motivating them but themselves.
So, when my eight-year-old tells me she’s too tired to get a shower before bed, I tell her, “Tough. Do it anyway.”
Or when she doesn’t want to brush her teeth, I tell her, “You can pay for your own dentures.”
Or when she “borrows” money from grandma to buy something, I make sure she pays it back.
Those nights when she complains about the “horrible” food that I cook – (I can cook, by the way. I just don’t like to.) – I remind her of the two little girls we sponsor in Africa who would be happy to eat my horrible meal. And then I offer to send her there and bring them here.
On the days when they fight, when they whine constantly, when they’re too bored because they don’t have anything to do, when they complain that there’s nothing good to eat – I’m honest with them. I tell them I don’t like their attitudes and I don’t want to be around them. I’ve told them I need a vacation from them and threatened to leave them home alone with Daddy. (The horror!)
I will not pander to their every whim, I will not reward them for trying, I will not give them a pass when they break a rule or give their word.
I will make life hard for my kids now because it will continue to be hard for them.
My hope in being hard is that:
- It teaches them right from wrong.
- It teaches them how to think for themselves.
- It teaches them responsibility.
- It teaches them integrity.
- It teaches them how to persevere.
- It teaches them to be thankful and content with what they have.
Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t condone any kind of abuse. That’s TOTALLY different. And I also don’t want to raise children who are cold-hearted scrooges.
I want to produce two adult women who know how to take care of themselves and expect nothing from anyone. I want two women who can be relied upon for their upstanding character and hard work. Most of all, I want two women who understand how hard life is – and are willing to find ways to make it easier for others.
That’s why we sponsor two little girls from Africa – to show my kids what a “hard life” truly is. They learn compassion by making that hard life easier. They also learn to be thankful for how rich we are – even if we aren’t “rich”.
That’s why they are aware of and (to a small extent) helped in the creation of a local program, Panther Packs. It sends food home on the weekend with at-risk elementary school children who may not otherwise have a meal. My kids learn that hunger exists in their own community – with their classmates. And they learn that Mommy’s food isn’t so horrible after all.
I make life hard for my kids now so when it truly gets hard, they aren’t too soft to handle it.