Funny how my kids think that I "enjoy" being the parent. I get to tell them what to do, when to do it, and if they don't-- I get the fun of disciplining them. Oh yea, what fun. If only they knew how hard it was. And so I told them. "It is not easy. It brings me so much sadness to have to take this away from you. I wonder if I am making the right decision. I battle with picking and choosing which issues I want to address by deciding which one is bigger or if I should not fight a particular battle at all. I wish you could understand how hard it is to have to discipline you even though I am doing it out of love. Only when you are a parent will you truly understand. Once you are grown we can be friends, but for now, I am the parent and you are the child."
Now I share, a few stories.
One of my older boys was "addicted" to an online game. He plays it all the time and gets grumpy if he has not had his "fix". It has nothing to do with the opposite sex-- in fact it is fairly harmless. The main issue I have is that he plays it too much and cannot keep it to a few hours a day. He still gets excellent grades. On one hand I am incredibly thankful that this is where his interest lies rather than with girls, going out, and getting into trouble, but on the other hand, I feel like I am tolerating his endless hours on the computer to keep him from moving onto more risque activities. After trying to come up with a reasonable schedule for his computer usage resulting in chores and family members being ignored, I took away his computer privilege. When I did this, I literally almost cried for him as I watched him end his membership. At first it was hard on him, but he is now participating in the family more, and returning to his old self. Yes, I may have my son back, but nothing about this was fun. Though I questioned my decision, I can already see a different child.
One of my daughters likes to "dress up". From the shadow on her eyelids, to the chain around her neck, to the bow in her hair, to the lotion on her hands, down to her shoes, she likes to look attractive. There is not necessarily anything wrong with this except for the fact that it appears that this is where she finds her worth-- in her appearance. For church on Sunday when she especially wants to look her best for God, I have questioned her motives. Is she really wanting to do this for God, or is she so insecure that she needs to look beautiful in order to draw attention to herself? I remind her how beautiful her heart is (and her natural beauty on the outside) and that if she were really wanting to be her best for God she would spend time preparing her heart for His message and make sure to keep the attention off herself by not "dressing up" so much. Afterall, Church on Sunday is where we come together and worship as a body of Believers in God-- not to worship one the Reed girls. Praising God for her response.
It is easy to assume that with such a large family with many kids in the same age range, we would be dealing with most of the same issues. In some ways that is true, but on most levels that is so not the case. Each child has such a unique personality, and each child is in a different place in their life. Six of my girls are seventeen months apart from youngest to oldest, but their maturity levels vary greatly. While vanity is an issue with a few of my girls, some of them are so far from it.... like a breath of fresh air. Some are characterized by helping around the house without no lip service while one or two of them insist on finding the loophole and then arguing till they are blue in the face once their behavior is brought to light. A few of my girls are content loving animals, while some are planning their weddings. What I find truly amazing, is how God stitched our family together. He knows how I am... and He knows how they are. Though our personalities clash at times, and our lives would hardly be considered peaceful and quiet-- we compliment each other in ways only God could have orchestrated. He has blessed us beyond measure with each other.
Through the good times and bad.... the smiles and trials-- he never gives us more than we can handle.
And during the times when I question that, I remember....
With Him all things are possible.