Do you do what’s best for your kid or what FEELS best for your kid?
Less ambiguously, do you do what’s best for your kid or what makes you feel most needed or successful as a parent?
See I’m about to step on some toes but… your child isn’t the most important person you lead.
Here’s what I mean by that.
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
Doesn’t work as a parent.
If you want your child to be brave.
You need to be brave.
If you want your child to be happily married one day.
You need to prioritize a healthy marriage over an, in the moment, happy child.
If you want your kid to be responsible financially.
You have to tell him no sometimes in the store.
If you want your kid to stop throwing a fit.
You need to stop screaming when they do something you don’t like.
One of the principles that Sarah and I use in our parenting is to widen the circle. I wrote about that a few weeks ago.
What that means is that as parents if we want to be successful we need to be strategic about other adults who have influence, that can say the same things we do but in different ways.
The problem with that principle though is it means we have to let other adults have influence.
See, to be completely honest, it didn’t feel that great giving up some of the control or influence in our kids life. But we did.
So when our first child was younger we, pretty early on, had her spend the night without us at her aunt’s house.
It kind of made us both feel, unsure, nervous, scared, and maybe if we had been on a therapy couch we would’ve said… unneeded? (See that makes me grimace because the real issue then was not my child’s security. It was my own insecurity.)
Let me put another way. Having her spend the night overnight that young was hard.
Sarah cried the whole night.
So why did we do it? Why did we leave our 2 month old overnight with her aunt?
Because the best thing for our kid was to start young on having godly people of influence.
The best thing for our marriage was to start early on prioritizing time alone together.
It didn’t FEEL best.
But it was best.
Another principle we have is imagine the end.
That means we try not to focus on what our child is doing. We try to focus on who our child is becoming.
So practically speaking?
Well that means that while I might have a tendency to yell to get my kids to stop doing something they shouldn’t, that approach doesn’t work.
The end of that path is just my kids hiding behavior from me they know I don’t like.
If I want my kids to be adults that trust and confide in me, I need to discipline but not belittle.
So fast forward to the terrible threes (you may have heard terrible twos but that’s just said to give new parents confidence that can then be crushed and destroyed like a saltine cracker by their new three year old).
So in the terrible threes, with our first one, there were many times I ended up having to walk out of the restaurant and back to the car to talk through the screaming.
I mean I could have threatened no movie in the car forever.
I could have thrown down the S word (spanking) like some kind of gladiatorial gauntlet.
And to be honest I have at times.
And to be honest, it probably would have felt better. I mean the behavior would stop (sometimes) and then I wouldn’t be embarrassed. The issue is; it probably wouldn’t be the best.
What’s best would be doing what’s right for my kid even if I feel like the restaurant staff is judging me, even if I felt like other parents were rolling their eyes. It would be taking them out of the restaurant and talking honestly (and calmly) with them.
My point is sometimes as a parent, most times as a parent, what IS best, doesn’t FEEL best.
If I’m not checking my motives I’ll take the path of least resistance every time.
So ask yourself, am I doing what’s best for my kid or what feels best for my kid?