My heart went out to her. Really, it did.
My teenage daughter Molly sat at the kitchen table, looking completely miserable.
Molly: Mom, I don’t feel like doing my homework. I’m tired. I don’t feel good. And oh, yea, I HATE math!
(Hmmm… wonder how the family would react if I applied that logic to laundry or making dinner or cleaning… but I digress…)
Me: I understand. But you have to do it.
Molly: You don’t understand anything! If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t make me do this! Wow. Thanks a lot, Mom.
As she was ranting, I looked over at her 10-year-old brother Micah who was doing his nightly cystic fibrosis treatments. They include wearing a vest that inflates and vibrates to keep his lung mucus flowing, along with inhaling three separate nebulized medications.
Me: Micah doesn’t want to do what he’s doing right now either. And I love him. I don’t want him to have to do that every night. But because I love him, I know he has to do it, or he will pay the price later. It may be a while, but there will be serious consequences for his health.
That’s why I’m telling you to do your math. I want to let you off the hook. But I have to encourage you to stick with it because you will pay a price if you don’t. It’s your choice, but there are always consequences.
Molly: Sigh. I know.
After some further dramatics and cries of being subjected to inhumane treatment, she finished her homework.
Now before you say, "Melinda, my what incredible patience and amazing insight you have!" please know two things: 1.) That was totally God who enabled me to make that connection and explain it calmly. 2.) My kids often want the easy way out. And over the years, I’ve been far too willing to open the door for them. We’ve all paid the price to some degree.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been taking positive steps to turn that around. I’m not allowing things to slide. I’m giving them more responsibility. I’m allowing them to suffer the consequences when necessary. I’ve stopped rescuing. And I’ve prayed every step of the way.
Change isn’t easy. It feels very uncomfortable to my recovering perfectionist, people-pleasing self. And believe me, the kids haven’t been too crazy about this new “Do it yourself” mom either.
But it's already been reaping dividends. My kids are already more self-sufficient, hardworking and respectful.
And isn’t that what we ultimately want? To raise adults who are responsible, self-motivated and attentive to the needs and feelings of others?
So lately, whenever I feel myself going weak in the knees when I know I should stand firm, or when I’m tempted to give in to my control freak tendencies and do something for them that they can do themselves, I remember what I’m working toward and ask myself, "Is what I’m doing going to shape them into the people God wants them to be?" And I feel my backbone getting stronger.
We all have a ways to go, but if I stick to my guns, they’ll respect that Mom’s not playing around. And one day we'll all reap the rewards.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT