This is such hard balance to strike for me. I agree that children are people too, and should be treated as such. But they also need guidance. I appreciate that Jamie highlights the importance and responsibility of parental authority. Discipline is often a struggle at our house. My children are what some term strong willed, hard to handle or another other number of terms. This means they are high energy, loud, adventurous. They are not compliant by nature. Trying to assign responsibilities is often more work than doing it myself. I find myself caught between not wanting to ruin or burden their childhood with chores and responsibilities and feeling the heavy weight of responsibility to prepare them for the future. Plus, chores equal fights at our house. I recognize that at three and almost six they need to be contributing to the running of our household. Is this cruel? I don’t think so. As Jamie points out in this chapter, children are people too. That means learning to take responsibility for some of their own needs and contributing to the household and society.
But how do I motive them without bruising their tiny spirits? I also recognize that as little humans they have the same sinful nature as the rest of us, and they are immature so they haven’t yet learned to control it. They would rather play than work, follow their own wills rather than acquiesce to someone else’s. This is natural, but it isn’t how we are meant to stay. As a parent, it is my job and guide and help them.
I’ve learned that there is no one right way or magic method of parenting. Family dynamic and the personality of each child plays a role in how successful a particular course of action may be. Which means a lot of trial and error. But if love remains the ultimate source of our actions, an equilibrium will eventually be found. I love my children too much to let them arrive in adulthood without any idea how to care for themselves and serve others in their lives and families. I love them too much to significantly set them back in life by babying them until the day they leave my house, totally unprepared to face the world.
Sometimes that love looks like chores, bedtimes and even consequences and punishments. The easier road for me, is to do things myself, ignore the constant challenges to my authority and allow them to do as they wish. There are days when my own resolve is weak and it seems simpler to give in and avoid the constant conflict. But I know that this is not for their best, nor mine. So we pick our battles, give them age appropriate choices and freedoms coupled with corresponding responsibilities. Honoring who they are while trying to help guide them into becoming who they are supposed to be.