Why We Don’t Send Our 17-Year-Old to The Corner
The words stung and I knew that my reaction would be emotional, childish and not the best example.
I couldn’t send her to the corner or take away a privilege. This was different.
I stood motionless, as if time was frozen and the flinging, stinging words were frozen mid-air between us. I could see the special growing wall in the distance past her shoulder – the wall in our home where we measure the top of our children’s hair-line with a pencil, label their names and the date, and watch them grow through the years.
And here was this opportunity before me to be measured by grace, wisdom, discernment and use a different approach to misconduct than the “dos and don’ts” we used when she was 4 or 5.
Imagine your own spiritual life and parenting. Has the line moved beyond the toddler or middle-age years when your children were sent to their rooms and there was no moving on the obedience factor?
What DO we do when an older child, who has been trained in our home, requires some “correction?”
We didn’t send her to the corner. And we didn’t send her to her room. In fact, we didn’t really do any… thing… for a while, because we had to figure this one out as parents before we handled it foolishly ourselves.
Knowing something is coming will not 100% prepare us for the emotional reactions we will have when our children grow older, bigger, wiser. I need to be growing and learning and building my relationship with God and with my child.
We then step beyond first time obedience, a slap on the hand for foolish behavior, or an emotional reaction that we will regret later.
What does progressive parenting look like? Humility. The reactions and the respect we learn to have in return and the response in our parenting is not lost on them as they continue to grow and change.
Change. Get out of the comfy chair.
Perhaps we have come to a comfortable place in our parenting. Where the rhythm of our instruction seems to be working well, and we have discovered the groove of their hearts. The children have learned to obey, they are understanding respect, the manners are falling into place and we are… “good parents.”
Problem? Our children will continue to grow. They will grow in wisdom and stature, and we might still be in our comfy place of parenting with the mindset, “Why change something that is working?”
So, our children are growing and we are still a few years behind.
Here is the view from the comfy chair:
Are we building bridges or setting up walls?
Is giving advice more important to us than any input we might need ourselves?
Will we be more intent on giving correction and forget that we need improvement?
Parenting is not about convenience. We all know that, from sleepless nights, missed worship services or financial strains.
But the move and groove of a strong family unit begins with parents who have softened hearts, ears to hear and eyes to see.
Today, the corner may look different:
Growing together means understanding the reaping and sowing of their lives is just as relevant to us as parents.
Let’s tear down the walls of communication and keep building those bridges.
Let’s listen to input and not always be the first to give advice.
Let’s also work to improve ourselves rather than focus on exclusively on correcting them.
Parenting older children with a mind-set of “follow the rules or else” can feel like an arm-wrestling match where no one really wins in the end.
Productive relationships are the result of a cultivated soil. Keep tilling and you will keep growing – WITH your children.
Open and honest communication will bridge the parenting gap that you might have lost.
How do we measure up today? Are we ready to move out of the comfort of yesterday and move into a relationship of today?
Written from a heart still learning,
September, One September Day
I love your emphasis on learning. Sometimes as parents, we fall into the “know it all” groove. The truth is, as our kids get older they need more from us than information and guidance. They need grace and love and listening ears. We can’t change a human heart and no amount of instruction has the power to melt their hearts – only the gospel can do that. I appreciate your encouragement to move out of our comfort zones. Grace is uncomfortable, but parenting with grace brings true and lasting freedom. My son is 23 now and I look back and realize I spent far too many years parenting with lists and rules, not with grace and love. When things start to fall apart rules don’t work anymore. All we have is Christ and his redeeming grace in our lives and our children’s lives. Better to show our kids that Love than another rule book they can’t measure up to. Thanks for your thoughtful insights here!
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