The other night my teenage daughter asked if she could have a friend over after summer workouts. Unless we have plans, I never mind her friends coming over. I have ulterior motives but hey, what Mom doesn’t? Her friends are all very well raised, they’re good influences on each other and it gives me a chance to see what there up too. If they’re here, then I know they’re safe. Plus, it’s summer vacation and she’s a good girl, so why not?
I told my daughter that her friend could come over as long as she cleaned her room and her bathroom. Now I’m kind of a clean freak so I expect things to look a certain way and the kids actually do a pretty good job keeping the house up to par with only a mild bit of nagging from me. As the night passed she and I did the things that we normally do. We watched movies, I did her hair, she played with her sister and she chatted on Facetime.
About 11:00 pm, I told her she needed to go to bed because she had to get up about 5:30 am for workouts. Then I realized that she hadn’t cleaned the bathroom. I asked her Dad go and check to see if she had done what she was supposed to. She hadn’t. She told her Dad that she had done everything but clean the tub. How do you clean a bathroom without cleaning the tub? I didn’t remember smelling any Clorox and I knew for a fact that she hadn’t come and gotten the broom. Uh oh. Activate Mommy Dearest mode.
I stood there in the kitchen fuming. I felt a massive rant coming on. This behavior was absolutely unacceptable. She had no problem asking me if her friend could come over. As a matter of fact, lately anytime she’s wanted something, she’s had no problem asking for it. But when I ask her to do one simple thing, she conveniently “forgets”. How disrespectful.
I headed back to the bathroom intending to deliver her a lengthy lecture. I planned to tell her how hard her Father and I worked so that she could live this life and how she was behaving very selfishly, among other things. As I stormed towards the bathroom, it hit me. My daughter’s shortcomings in doing what was asked of her, were my shortcomings as a parent. The entitlement that my daughter was exhibiting, began with me.
I have three children so please don’t misunderstand me. I’m no stranger to discipline. I’m not ‘that parent’ that feels like their children can do no wrong. I don’t allow my children to behave without any consequences or responsibility. I believe in accountability. Spare the rod, spoil the child. So why? Why hadn’t I been expecting more from my children? When did I begin giving them everything and requiring nothing? When did I begin telling them ‘yes’, so much, and ‘no’ not often enough?
I realized that often times, I’m doing the cleaning because I want things to look a certain way. If I do it, I know it’s going to be done right. But if I never really give my children a chance to do anything, then how can I be upset when they do it incorrectly? If I’ve never really taught them to do it properly, then i’m handicapping them. how am I preparing them for the real world?
Instead of delivering that lecture, I made a silent promise. I promised myself that from here on out, I’ll tell my daughter exactly what I expect of her. Instead of just giving my children orders, I’ll help them and show them how to properly do whatever tasks they’re assigned. I’ll prepare them for the world by teaching them that hard work builds character and that they should always give their all. I’ll be the change that I want to see, in them. I’ll lead by example.
Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.