Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
Alright. It’s time. I mean, not just time to write a blog- if I was on any kind of schedule to blog, then it’s way past that time.
It’s time to come clean.
I’m a briber.
Yes, you read that right: BRIBER.
I bribe my kids. Today I needed to get that grocery shopping done in record time. So I told them if we made it back to the car in less than 30 minutes everyone would get a treat after dinner. My eldest actually pushed the cart, the youngest actually sat in the cart, and my middle child managed not to get run over by the cart!! (You have no idea!! This was like a Christmas miracle! If it had been a movie, the audience would have been crying at the heart wrenching beauty of this grocery adventure!) From the time I put the car in park, to the time we were driving out of the parking lot was exactly 20 minutes.
Do not underestimate the power of sugar.
I not only bribe my children, I bribe myself. I tell myself that if I am really reallllllllllly good, then I can get Starbucks. I’m an adult talking to myself, but it’s the truth. I work like crazy at the thought of earning a Starbucks.
Now ladies (or dads, if you’re reading this?), there’s a reason for my sudden confession, and it is this: We are not perfect. Oh my gosh, are we soooooo not perfect!!! So far from it! No one is!! (Well, Jesus, but you know… long side story we don’t have time for now. But He is the one and only exception!) So we need to stop looking like we are perfect and like our children do any little thing we ask of them out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re kids! They’re not perfect either!
Recently a friend asked me how I had gotten my children to work so well together (bear in mind she’d only been watching them interact for the best 45 minutes of their day). I had one word for her: BRIBERY. She was shocked. You bribe your children!??! And I realized she thought I was a ‘perfect parent’! My first reaction was: Ha! Fooled you! Followed shortly by the more correct reaction: Honey, I am so very sorry! That person you were just describing… that’s not me. I don’t know any woman like the one you were just talking about. And what a disservice I’ve done you by making myself look perfect when I am not!
Yes, children should do what we tell them to do. Sometimes for their safety we even need them to*. And that’s one thing, but children are going to make mistakes and misbehave. And we, their parents, have an arsenal of tools to try and strong arm them, nurture them, trick them, guilt them, encourage them, and any-other-thing them into behaving. So let’s just try to do our best, and then just let that be ok.
And here’s the thing, I don’t call what I’m doing “bribery.” It’s a reward. Do you know any adults who happily go to their jobs without compensation? And how many adults call their pay checks “bribery”??? You are rewarded for a job well done. It is okay to ‘reward’ your children too.
Don’t fall off the other side of the horse now- you don’t have to reward/bribe your child for every little act of kindness. And sometimes our words can carry just as much reward as sugar (but, I repeat, do not underestimate the power of sugar). I know I bend over backwards for a nice compliment. I have one child who is the same.
And when you do your best, when you are giving something all you got- it’s okay to fail from time to time. It’s great for kids to see us fail, and to watch how we handle it. It’s great for kids to see their parents ask for forgiveness. As we parent, we are building character in our children, but also in ourselves.
If you do your best, that’s good enough. You can rest in that. God knows who you are, He wired you a certain way. Your children are not a biologically random combination of genes- but a child planned and purposed for your family. A gift from God, to you.
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
So good job! We applaud you! You’re amazing! You gave it your all today! You may have messed up, but you have the strength to get up and try again tomorrow. You have the ability to seek forgiveness, to encourage again, to wipe that nose one more time! You can do all of the mommy (or daddy (if you’re reading this?)) things!
You’re amazing! God says so!!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Lord, thank you for our children. Open our eyes anew to the gifts that they are to us. Likewise open our eyes to see how we are a gift to them. You created families, you have a plan for our family. We say yes and amen to Your Plan!! And we ask for your help in parenting these precious gifts. Help us not to judge our parenting based on our neighbor’s abilities, but to see our parenting through your eyes. We ask for help in the areas where we are weak or lacking, but pray that you will keep guilt and discouragement at bay. Protect our marriages, our family, and our children. Help us to build our children up into the men and women you created them to be. In Jesus name, Amen!
*quick aside- today while leaving the library I asked my eldest to grab the hand of my youngest, and he flat out refused! (See, not perfect children) So I did what every (not perfect) mother does and yelled his socks off. Then, after calming down a bit, I took the time to explain to him all the thoughts going on in my head. We were stepping into a parking lot, I was carrying a crate full of books that probably weighed about 30+ pounds, cars were approaching, and I had no way to grab my youngest and make sure he didn’t make a dash for the car. I had 2 options: throw 30 pound crate at my eldest and crush him, or ask for help. Putting things into that perspective my eldest felt pretty bad. Which allowed me to (not) maturely say, “Sometimes you need to trust that your mother is not just saying things to annoy you, and just do them!!”