Read Proverbs 2
"Honor your father and your mother,
so that you may live long in the land the LORD
your God is giving you.
I recently read an article that made me very sad. It was about a father who realized too late that his daughter needed a parent, not a friend. She needed limits, not more fun. The father is a famous one, Billy Ray Cyrus, known for his many country music hits. The daughter is also well-known, 18 year old Miley, star of Hannah Montana and now a recording artist herself.
Billy Ray is quoted as saying, "How many interviews did I give and say, 'You know what's important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids'? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, 'You don't need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.' Well, I'm the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, 'Enough is enough--it's getting dangerous and somebody's going to get hurt.' I should have, but I didn't. Honestly, I didn't know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere."
A parent's role is to create solid boundaries for a child (Proverbs 2:1). It goes against our instinct initially. We think, "but I don't want to see my child unhappy." Giving in to that theory doesn't make the child happier, actually the opposite. There is a security (trust) and love in setting limits. A child lacks the maturity to know what is good for them. That's why God gave them parents! My grandma told me when I was dealing with a terribly defiant toddler, "She has powerful potential, but you need to get her bullets firing in the right direction."
A friend of mine told me about her growing up years in a family with "fun" parents who always tried to be her friend. In her teen years she started to rebel and felt very angry all the time. Their relationship got so bad that her parents took her to a counselor. After hours of counseling an angry teen and frustrated parents, the expert determined that the teen did not feel her parent's love. "How can that be?!!" Her parents exclaimed, "We give her everything she wants." But because the child/teen did not know limits, she did not know trust, and because she did not trust, she did not know love.
When we in the midst of parenting little ones, our goal can lose focus. We can easily get muddled and off course. Inconsistency happens. Maybe we let the child manipulate instead of obey. Or we appease instead of discipline. In fear of tantrums, we give in. But try to hear in the tantrum that the child is saying, "Can I trust you? Do you love me? Will you hold firm to the boundaries or leave me firing without restraint?"
Let these words from Billy Ray be a reminder that years from now, we'll look back at things differently:
"I'd take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just everybody be okay, safe and sound and happy and normal would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I'd erase it all in a second if I could."
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"Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it."
You can read "Billy Ray Cyrus' Regret" by Jim Daly at Focus on Family Online Community.