So after my usual 15 minute sit in Car-Line, I pick up my kindergarten cutie and she pops in the car with a smile on her face. We chatted for a second until a troubled look came over her....
Reese: "Mom, Lena lied to me today"
Me: "Really Reese? How so?"
Reese: "She told me that she came out of her moms bottom or privates. I told her that is not true, we come out of our mom's bellybuttons. But she told me NO, she is sure that she came out of her mom's bottom"
Me: (accidental outburst of laughter)
Reese: (face got sadder)
Me: "Oh Sorry Reese, I wasn't laughing at you, I was laughing about what Lena said."
Reese: "Well, is it true? I really want you to tell me"
Me: I proceeded to explain that it is true, sort of, we come out of our mommies privates.
Reese: You mean I came out of that circle in your bottom?
Me: Restrained my laughter this time... And again explained that is not the case and told her what happens.
Wow, the conversations that lie ahead of me.
Luckily, John and I had a conversation a few months before that about always telling our kids the truth in a way that is appropriate for their ages. I failed my parenting test with my loud cackle that erupted when she asked me. I think our temptation as parents is to get defensive or mad or just shrug it off with a joke when our kids ask us hard questions. I remember as a kid, I was allowed to ask any question. Drinking, sex, drugs, whatever. So I would ask my parents about things I heard at school. They made it a safe place instead of getting defensive about where I heard it, if I was thinking of doing it, whatever. I hope I am always an approachable parent...not a friend.... still a parent, but I want our kids to feel like our home is a safe place to ask tough questions and get true answers instead of "ask your dad" or a laugh or you'll figure it out. I have such a short time to speak into our kids lives. I hope we can be a place where they feel safe to talk about hard issues. I want to make sure we always discuss WHY we have the rules we have. I think we do our kids a disservice to just say "We don't drink, smoke, have premarital sex, cuss, etc" This is going to be years of discussing more so the why than just what the rules are. I read "Grace based parenting" a while ago and one thing stuck out to me from that book. That if we are a rule-driven parent, we will create either robots or rebels. Robots are the rule-followers. They obey their parents mostly because they are people pleasers who don't want to disappoint. On the other hand, rule driven families who do not have an open safe place to communicate difficult things create Rebels. Rebels know the rules and want to push back because there is a limit to go beyond.
John and I want to be intentional to shepherd our children to make choices. They do need to obey us, but it is always a choice. Life is full of choices with good and bad consequences. When they face a difficult decision in life, I don't want them to hear my voice shouting rules in their head evoking either guilt or rebellion. I want them to have a foundation of a discussion of the consequences of that choice (good or bad) and know how to walk through a decision making process that will yield a good outcome in their life. I will not always be in their corner telling them which direction to go. I am trying to raise them to make good choices, even as a 3 and 5 year old. We do a LOT of our disciplining through choices (please read scream free parenting, by hal runkel for more on this!). It has brought me so much joy for Reese to start "getting it". The other night, she said "Mom, i really want to ask you for another piece of cake but I know that would be a bad choice because then I'd have a belly ache" One mini-success story in the multitudes of other not-so-shining moments, but with lots of prayer, discernment, and seeking out others who are doing it right, we will do our best to steward the kids we have been blessed with.
And man do we need wisdom on that one!!