The Greatest Gifts a Parent Can Give

By Joanne Putnam

In this chapter I would like to share my heart with you, though I do want to warn you: Don’t turn me off at the beginning of the chapter! If you hang on, I think I can help you to become a better parent and a better child!

This past fall, my grandson was at our house the day the JC Penney Christmas catalog arrived. It didn’t take long for John Avery to find the page with all the miniature riding vehicles: cars, motorcycles, and tractors. After a couple of minutes, he said, “Nana Joanne, I need you to buy me all the things on this page!”

As parents and grandparents, I think most of us do try to buy our children what they need or think they need. But being a parent is certainly more than just providing a child with things he wants. Parents have the responsibility to raise a child who will ultimately meet his or her Creator in eternity.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

It is an awesome responsibility and not an easy task. Dr. James Dobson wrote a book entitled Parenting Isn’t for Cowards. How true!

I know my children haven’t been perfect and we haven’t been perfect parents, but I thank the Lord for helping us to raise them in the fear and admonition of Him. I think He has given us some key guidelines to do this that I would like to share with you.

There are three things I would like to share with you in your role as a parent and one thing I would like to share with you in your role as a child, and remember you are still someone’s child!

In your role as a parent, I want to encourage you to do these three things:

– Be a mean mom or dad,
-Let your children fail
– And don’t be your child’s friend!

In your role as a child, I want to encourage you to do this:

– Honor thy father and thy mother.

Now that I have given you a moment to catch your breath, remember I said: Don’t turn me off! Let me explain!

As a parent – First: Be a mean mom or dad. Several years ago, this little vignette was in our local newspaper:

Mean Mothers

Was your Mom mean? I know mine was. We had the meanest mother in the world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, or eggs, or toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And as you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too, and she made us all eat together as a family.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.

We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make our beds, clean our rooms, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.

She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds. I think she could even see through walls! Then life was really tough!

Mother wouldn’t let our friend’s just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were twelve or thirteen, we had to wait until we were much older!

Because of our mother, we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught for shoplifting, vandalizing other’s property, or ever arrested for any crime. None of us have ever done drugs, got drunk, or started smoking. It was all her fault!

Now that we have left home, we are all God fearing, educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that is what’s wrong with the world today. It just doesn’t have enough mean moms anymore!

Written by Bobbie Pingaro (1967) Abridged version.

Don’t you agree that we need more mean moms and dads who care about what their children do? We need to be parents who hold their children accountable to do the right thing and who take the time and energy to show their children they love them by being a good example for them and setting some parameters in their lives! Kids don’t feel their parents really care about them when they don’t set boundaries for them and aren’t involved in their lives! I hear it and see it every day!

Second: Let them fail.

Do you realize that perhaps one of the best things you could do for your child is to let him fail? As parents we want the very best for our children. We do all we can to set the stage for them to succeed in everything they do.

As a baby, we prop them up with pillows so if they fall they will not be hurt. We buy them every toy and gadget that we feel will stimulate them to develop to their best potential. If they have problems in school we blame the teacher or the “system.” We intervene in situations so that our children aren’t “hurt” when they make bad decisions, and we make excuses for them.

As a teacher, I see parents who color the child’s pictures and do the child’s homework so they won’t fail, and refuse to allow children to be held back in school, even though they lack the maturity or necessary skills to go to the next level.

Parents pay for speeding tickets, get fines “fixed,” pay for abortions to protect their child’s “future,” and lie for them in court. Parents see their child failing in some aspect of life, so they run to prop them up. The next failure, they prop them up again. Eventually the props are so adequately placed that no one knows there is a problem with immaturity, irresponsibility, and a lack of basic skills, until the rug is literally pulled out from under them and they can’t stand on their own two feet.

They can’t get their balance and they fall so hard that even Mom and Dad can’t fix it any more.

We need to let our children fail in the little things of life so they can learn to make right choices in the big things. They need to learn that there are consequences to their decisions and realize their need to seek counsel of others, especially their parents.

Children need boundaries and they need consequences. Without either of these parameters, children feel they are “Free-falling.” Kids will test your limits, but for the most part, they will choose to remain within those bonds of security.

The prodigal son demanded that his father give him his share of the birthright early. With such an important decision, I am sure the father gave him wise counsel, or at least tried to. The father could have refused to let the young man have his inheritance, but he did not seek to control every aspect of his life. He allowed his son to go his own way, to make his own decision.

The father never followed his son to protect him. He wasn’t there to bail him out of the pigpen. He simply waited for him to humble himself, come to his right mind, and come home. He let him fail.

Throughout the ages, men and women have had to make choices. When they were good they reaped the benefits; when they were bad they reaped the consequences.

We must give our children the chance to choose and allow them to fail in the little things so they will be able to seek advice and make appropriate choices in the big things and not fail.

I remember a situation with my oldest daughter. She was just getting to the age where Play-Doh was too immature for her. She had some money to spend on something for herself, so we went shopping. She wanted to buy the Play-Doh set that squished the dough out the plastic person’s head, for hair.

I wasn’t real keen on the potential mess but I didn’t address that issue with her. I just mentioned that long-term, I thought she might like something else. I gave her the opportunity to make the final decision, and she went for the Play-Doh set. When she got home and opened it, she immediately regretted making the decision. The next time we went to the store, she returned it and purchased something else. I noticed that the next time a decision was to be made; she immediately sought Mom’s advice!

Third: Don’t be their friend.

My oldest daughter is the “classic” strong-willed child. One day, as a teenager, she became so angry with me that she yelled, “You’re not my friend!” I really felt the Lord spoke through me as I responded very calmly with, “You’re right, Amy; I’m not your friend. I’m your mother. Maybe one day we can be friends, but right now I’m your mother.”

Too many parents cower at those types of outbursts. They want to be their child’s friend. They so much want their children to love them that they cave in to their demands, much to the detriment of their children. You must be the parent. You must be the one in charge.

Parents are so busy today that they try to do whatever they can to appease their children, thinking that it is the easier route. It may seem so at first, but it will lead to overwhelming problems that you can’t even imagine!

Today, Amy would tell you I am her best friend! But I guarantee you, had I given in to her strong will, she would not be saved today!

In your Role as a Child: (Remember we are all Children)

Exodus 20:12 commands us to “honour thy father and thy mother.” And Ephesians 6:1-3 instructs us: “children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

God has given order to the family. I think most of us understand that. The husband/father is to be the head of the home, submitting himself to the will of the heavenly Father. The wife is to be subject to her husband, not as his doormat but as his helpmeet, and the children are to submit themselves to their parents and, in doing so, will be blessed of the Lord.

The Ten Commandments which were given to Moses to govern Israel, God’s chosen people, are still in effect today.

I don’t know if you have ever heard of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, but she is a very conservative radio talk show host who is Jewish. She knows the law the Jewish law and she does not pull any punches when people call her for answers to questions in their lives. If someone calls to ask for advice and tells her she is “living with her fiance,” she responds with, “Oh, you mean you’re shacking up?”

I once heard her explaining the significance of the Ten Commandments. She said God had a very specific plan when He wrote the commandments, even as the order in which they were given. She said that the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16) is pivotal because it divides the commandments related to God from those related to our fellowman. Schlessinger said that when families are out of step in the home, when children aren’t honoring their mother and father as the Scriptures decree, they will be out of step with God and with their fellow human beings. This is the key think about it: In the parental relationship we learn first how to submit to the Lord and then how we are to serve our fellowman!

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Stop to think about that for a minute. If we are not in right relationship with our parents, honoring and respecting them, how can we truly honor and respect the Lord or ever hope to relate well to our fellowman?

People often relate to God as they related to their father. If they had a loving and kind father, that is how they view God; if their father was cruel, they think God is cruel and that He lays traps for them just to see them destroyed.

Now let me interject something here: You may not have had good parents. You may have come from a very dysfunctional family. Your parents may have hurt you deeply. It’s a fact, not all parents are good; some are just plain evil. But you are a vengeance. The parents literally had no control of these four room one night and laid across the bed to talk with us. Over and over he thanked my husband and me for disciplining him as a child. He just couldn’t believe that children could be so unmanageable, and he was thankful that his parents had raised him with discipline and manners.

Dennis Rainey, a Christian family counselor, recently told a story about his daughter who went through a very rebellious time when she was a teenager. She wanted to know why she had all these rules. She demanded to know why she couldn’t be free to express herself and do what she wanted to do. .

During this time, the family went on a vacation. They had some friends watch their beloved pet bird. While they were gone, the bird, who liked to get out of its cage, ended up actually flying out of the house! His daughter was devastated because it was her favorite pet. Rainey asked his daughter why the bird needed to be kept in a cage. He asked her what was wrong with just letting the fly where it wanted and do what it wanted. She told him that cage was for the bird’s protection. What a teachable moment Lord afforded Rainey as he proceeded to talk to his daughter, “Yes, you want to protect him, so you keep him in a cage. That’s exactly why we have rules for you. We want to protect!” She understood the message loud and clear! (In case you’re wondering, fortunately for her, the bird did come back. What an awesome God we have!)

The gifts I’ve shared with you in this chapter bring the promise of a fruitful, enjoyable life in your family relationships as well as with the Lord Jesus Christ!

– Be a mean mom,
– Let your children fail,
– Don’t be your child’s friend!
– Honor thy father and thy mother.

Take time right now to ask Jesus to guide you in your relationships with your loved ones. Everything in our society is trying to tear the family apart. Now, more than ever, we need His divine hand of mercy to guide us through this life.

This article was taken from “Let’s go down to the Potter’s House” By Joanne Putnam