Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:17-18
Haddie loves to learn. As a 3 year old she is already quite adept at speaking in both Spanish and English. She is enthusiastic about learning new skills – sometimes too much! Last week, her mommy accidentally left a pair of adult scissors in Haddie’s room during naptime, so Haddie took advantage of the opportunity to practice her newly learned cutting skills using the adult scissors on her bean bag chair and curtains. Her mommy entered the room to find Haddie, scissors in hand, sitting in the midst white styrofoam stuffing which covered her entire floor. Haddie worked hard to achieve this.
And I pray that she never loses her desire to work hard.
Because her growth in all things will come by way of her own effort.
And that is true for everyone, not merely for the not-so-naturally gifted but also for the naturally talented who, without a genuinely good work ethic, may wind up coming in second to the tortoise who starts out slower but is victorious in the end.
However, in the “I-want- Sally-to-be-happy” parenting mindset, expectations tend to be gradually lowered in order to allow for temporary happiness, while little attention is given to the principles in “pain-now-gain-later.”
We give in. We lower the bar.
We give in some more. The bar continues to be lowered. Consider the fact that today’s students are far more likely to get an A average but for far less work as compared to students in the 1970’s.
The problem lies with the fact that as a culture, we don’t want our kids to struggle.
We want them to “be happy.” Instead of a focus on getting better we allow our kids to focus a great deal on entertaining themselves.
And we don’t want them to be disappointed.
Instead of expecting them to wait and work to acquire “stuff”, we give them what they want when they want it. Today’s kids “need” a great deal more than kids even a few decades back. From cell phones to iPods to the newest and the best in everything, kids today have a great deal of stuff with very little of their own sweat equity in acquiring it.
In addition, we don’t want them to feel badly about how they perform.
We want them to feel good about themselves even when feeling the pain of failure or mistakes would be the very motivation to grow and get better. So we lavish praise and recognition on them whether it’s actually merited or not.
We strive to alleviate pain. They fail to gain.
We lower the bar. As a result, they fail to grow.
And when they fail to grow, they plateau.
And that’s a problem.
“Most of us plateau when we lose the tension between where we are and where we aught to be.” (John Gardiner)
We were created to grow and to keep growing for a lifetime. When our kids quit growing, (just like us) they fail to see the “finish line” and focus instead ton he hurdles that stand in their way. Rather than figure out how to overcome the hurdles, they try to figure out who to blame them for.
So keep your kids growing.
Growth promotes growth promotes growth. The distractions of this present age serve to get in the way of growth by fostering instead the desire to be entertained and instantly gratified. And then kids fail to experience the joy found in true growth and in a deepening understanding about who God is and who He created them to become.
So grow. Don’t stop.
And don’t let your kids stop either.
- Make your kids do chores. Teach them that managing a household requires the contributions of everyone.
- Expect them to do for themselves what they can do and keep raising the bar of what they can do.
- Make them put “sweat equity” into getting “stuff’ rather than just giving it to them.
- Expect them to make good use of their time both at work and at play – to be single focused and attentive to what they ought to be doing. Study time should therefore be free of cell phone and internet distractions.
- Don’t try to negate the pain they feel from failure or mistakes. Focus instead of guiding them to understand what they can do better in the future to get better results.