She hasn’t learned that you don’t mess with Oma,” Kate whispered to her brother as Haddie stubbornly stood by the piano with her arms crossed. Rather than her typical “I can do this” attitude, Haddie had chosen a whiny “this is too hard” mindset for her piano lesson that afternoon. Kate was right. Pouting, whining and refusing to try fall into the category of behaviors, I won’t tolerate. I love my grandchildren too much to do so.

Free to Parent was written with incidents like this in mind…..

……how to hold kids to high standards and at the same time maintain a loving connection with them – even when they mess up and choose poorly.

Because I believe a loving connection is of upmost importance, I may at times give the impression that I am a push over or that I don’t promote parental authority.

Nothing could be further from the truth. (Ask my grandchildren) I just believe that parents must learn to consistently maintain their expectations and at the same time lovingly affirm their kids. These ideals are not in opposition with each other. Rather parenting within a tension between the two forms a loving authority, one that best incarnates Christ, who was the perfect embodiment of both grace and truth.

Haddie now loves to play the song that was "too hard."

Haddie now loves to play the song that was “too hard.”

Without standards that are consistently upheld, children readily fall into bad habits.

They get lazy and learn to cut corners.
They get caught up in distractions.
They give up when the going gets a bit tough.
Then goals and aspirations diminish and discouragement sets in. Why? Because deep inside kids want to aspire to great things and become all they are supposed to be.   Holding to standards and necessary boundaries form the guardrails that keep children on their right path.

 Without a loving connection however, and regular doses of affirmation, kids can easily begin to feel like a project to be finished or something to fix.

They are not projects – or something to be fixed.  They are children in the process of becoming who God calls them to be.  But as they grow older, if they view themselves as parental projects, they may opt to put their energies into not “being fixed” and seek the affirmation they crave elsewhere.

 Your children – like each of us – were created by a loving God in His image and in His likeness. (Genesis 1:26).

Buried within each and every child’s human condition, are glorious seeds – a unique personality, as well as talents and gifts bestowed by God by which they will come to honor Him. These seeds need plenty of love to sprout and they need plenty of affirmation to keep growing. But they also need the protection of standards and expectations all along the way in order to flourish and grow strong.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18