Saturday, April 25, 2009

Too Much Whine In My Life

What is your favorite.... is one of my children's favorite games. I will ask about their favorite foods, games, movies, etc... They enjoy answering these questions and I have the opportunity to find out what is important to them. We recently played a version of this game while camping with friends of ours. It started out with each of us naming our 5 worst foods, then our 5 favorite foods. Because the kids were all enjoying it so much, we played for quite a while and eventually I asked," What are the 5 things that make you the most mad?" I don't remember what the children answered but some the other parents decided to chime in with answers of their own. As the kids lost interest and moved onto more entertaining diversions, us adults ended up compiling a list of the things our children do that upset us most. Tops on the list, for all of us, was whining! Other popular answers included disobedience, disrespect, and ingratitude.
It was interesting, and maybe a bit comforting, to know that our friends were struggling with many of the same parenting challenges that Tim and I grapple with daily. And upon further contemplation, I suppose it makes sense. All children have their whiny moments. They are all disobedient at times, disrespectful in certain situations and ungrateful for many of the things we do for them. In fact, as the fallen, sinful people we all are, don't we ALL struggle with these same weaknesses? There are many times I know that God is asking me to be patient and kind towards others, especially my own family, yet I refuse to do so for some reason or other. I have days when I am completely self absorbed and hardly even take the time to spend with God, let alone praise and thank Him as I should. I am oftentimes the disrespectful, disobedient, ungrateful child of my heavenly Father, just as I accuse my children of being towards me.
Now, unfortunately, at the time of our camping trip chat there were ten children running wild in a field and a storm rolling in quickly. Our conversation never advanced to a discussion of solutions. However, though these problems are somewhat universal, it does not mean we can avoid addressing the issues in our children and in ourselves. And though we may never fully overcome our weaknesses we must strive to do so as much as we are able.
So how do we attempt to teach our children to be less whiny, more respectful, more obedient, and more grateful? How do we cultivate these same virtues in ourselves. I believe the answer is discipline. For us, that means the discipline of daily prayer including an examination of conscience, (at least) weekly attendance at Mass, and regular participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For our children, it means firm, but loving correction. Our children must understand that we are in authority over them, just as God is in authority over all of us. God has given us, as parents, the responsibility to guide our children to Him and we can not accomplish that if we allow them to be in control. It is our duty to let them face the consequences of their actions and choices. Furthermore, we owe it to them to discipline them when their choices are the wrong ones. We must be tireless and consistent in upholding our standards and expectations. Hopefully, we will set an example of self-discipline that will further encourage the development of virtue in our children.
So will discipline forever solve the problem of whiny, disobedient kids? Well, as much as I wish it would, I realize that even the best most consistent discipline will not entirely wipe out all whining or make our children into perfectly respectful, obedient little robots. They are, after all, children and we must be patient with them as they grow and mature. We must accept that they will have moments where they push us and test their limits. We must expect that they will occasionally re-lapse into whiny, sassy unpleasant little children. If we remain in control and firm, these moments will hopefully pass relatively painlessly. And in time, through God's grace, we can all hope to grow in respect, obedience, and gratitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...