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Don’t Try to Be the Cool Parents

2010 June 20
by Mike

(This is a blog repeat. I wrote it a few years ago for Father’s Day.)

A Father’s Day Encouragement to Young Parents

A while back I wrote about how pleasantly surprised we were by the message of the film “In Good Company.” By the previews it looked like a mindless plot about the romance between a hot-shot young executive (Topher Grace) and the college-age daughter (Scarlett Johansson) of the man whose place he took (Dennis Quaid) after a company buy-out.

But the romance is short-lived. The movie isn’t about that. Rather, it’s about the fathering of this young exec by the man he replaced. Near the end, he says to this older guy after being punched in the eye for sleeping with his daughter: “No one ever took the time to give me a hard time.”

What a great line.

I want to encourage all you younger parents out there in blogsphere. It is hard to be the parent who lovingly gives a hard time. It’s hard to be the one who enforces tv/computer time limits, homework, and bedtimes. It’s difficult to set age-appropriate limits to movies when “every other kids’ parents let them watch whatever they want.” It’s tough to be firm when you’re exhausted from work and life’s stresses.

But hang in there! Your kids are counting on you — whether they yet know it or not. (I just saw a teenager on the plane whose t-shirt had two words: NO LECTURES!)

Your children need to know that YOU are the parent. In too many homes, the children run everything by parents who are overly-eager to please. If they don’t like the Bible class, they don’t have to go. If they have more friends at another church, the family leaves. If they want to eat unhealthily — well, we reassure ourselves that at least they’re eating something. If there is a problem with a coach or a teacher, the child is always assumed to be right.

Be the adult! Be the loving, compassionate, tender, but very-much-in-charge parent! It’s one of life’s ironies: that the one thing kids say they don’t want (rules and limits) is what they need.

I’m not talking, of course, about being a tyrant or about being inflexible. I’m talking about being lovingly in charge.

It may seem to kids that parents who mind their own business, don’t serve vegies, let them wear whatever is in style, allow unlimited time on the net to chat, permit any movie to be shown when friends come over, and ask no questions about where they’re going in the evening are the cool parents.

Here’s my encouragement: Don’t try to be the cool parents. Be the parents who take the time and the love to give a hard time.

Eventually, when your kids age a bit, they’ll know that you really were the cool parents.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Julia permalink
    June 20, 2010

    Happy Father’s Day to you and all the fathers reading this blog.

  2. June 20, 2010

    Excellent point. Thanks for the reminder.

    (I think I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook. I finished reading then found myself looking for the “like” button to click! )

  3. June 21, 2010

    Great advice. Parents who tether their parenting strategy to child-pleasing are making their child their god. It is a form of idolatry. Furthermore, the end result may be a child who grows up being a narcissist.

  4. June 21, 2010

    Amen, amen, amen.

    As a friend likes to quip, parenting is not for sissies. But when it’s done right (in the face of threatened tantrums, threatened anarchy and who-knows-what else), you will eventually reap some of the sweetest rewards that God gives us this side of heaven. (Our offspring will soon celebrate their 25th, 22nd, and 15th birthdays. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re far enough along that we are reaping what we’ve sowed.)

    I love my children dearly, but our family’s life has never revolved around them. Rather, we taught them that they each had a place in the family, and mom and dad were the core of their young universe, not the other way around. There is a time to treat them more like your peers or equals – when they’ve earned that status, and not a minute sooner.

    Fathers, provoke not your children unto wrath. But by all means, have the courage to do what is necessary to lovingly chasten them and discipline them so they may grow up grounded and rooted in the lessons you want them to learn and remember for their lifetime.

    Love your blog – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Larry permalink
    June 22, 2010

    Great job, Mike. I like Terry’s comments also. Tough love, “giving the children a hard time” is a difficult thing to do. We get too comfortable doing it the easy way. Sometimes the hard thing is to not say any thing or to not do anything. My oldest lost his breath as went limp when he was small, and everytime he fell when he was learning to walk. When he did, I ran to him, picked him up and blew in his face and he would wake up and cry. I told the doctor about it and he asked ‘what do you do?” I told him. He said to sit still and let him recover, that no one could hold their breath and hurt themsleves. When you hold your breath and go limp, you relax your muscles and you breathe again. Every time. I had to ‘white knuckle’ my hold on the chair for 2-3 weeks each time he fell as passed out. Then he quit on his own and has never done it again. That example has been a lesson to me through 6 kids and 14 grandchildren

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