“A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.” Erma Bombeck
“Hey guys, today we’ve gotta do the lawn!” I yell upstairs as my teenagers begin to wake up last weekend. It seems like the more teenagery my kids get, the harder it is to wake up. But, this day they woke up on their own before 11:00. Yay, personal victory! But I knew I would face some backlash mentioning the lawn. Now, our lawn is not like some sort of golf course or rolling hills…although that would be very nice. Our lawn is like a flat perfect square that, if done properly, takes less than an hour to complete. But, whenever those tiny blades of grass start to make their appearance in the spring, my kids get all irritated that the grass actually grows! They would be totally satisfied if we lived on a dirt patch.
Now the kids have their regular chores around the house. You know, the chores that everyone is expected to do because you are human and you live at our address. Some of those jobs are making up your bed, occasionally doing the dishes and keeping your room one level above nuclear wasteland state. But, if we ask you to go above and beyond the “normal” we actually PAY you. I’d say my teens have it pretty easy. But, in the spring and summer months, lawn care gets added into the mix. And, we are even fair about that, too! One will mow while the other one cleans up after the dog, trims and blows off the extra grass from the patio and driveway. Normally, they take turns which one does which job.
So, last weekend, my husband was out of town, and I had to remind them that the lawn needed to be mowed. You would’ve thought I was asking them to donate a kidney or write a thesis on how grass grew. The complaints resonated throughout the house. I was totally used to them complaining, but I guess on this particular day, I was just tired of hearing them. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I could feel my blood pressure rising, and I felt my teeth start to clench. And, I just let loose…all barrels loaded!
“What do you mean you don’t want to do it?? Why is this always a problem?? You guys have it so easy here! There are people who use slavery as a means to get this stuff done, and you complain that you just don’t feel like doing it?? AHHHHHH!!
My teenagers just stood there looking like my head had exploded…which I guess it kind of did. Louie, the 6 year-old, was out of there. He knew when it was best to just disappear. I stomped out of the house into the backyard and the kids followed me. I looked at them and told them, “Since you are complaining, that means you don’t want to do it. And, since it has to be done, that means I have to do it. But, you can’t go anywhere. You have to stay on that porch and watch while I do YOUR job.” I then started up the lawn mower. Eddie, my teenage son, kept trying to take it from me. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “If you know what’s good for you, you best make sure you are on that porch.” He knew I meant business.
At first, I was so angry, it was pretty easy for me to mow. But, as I got into it I realized that this punishment might not have been a good idea. I was mowing the lawn in the heat! Hey! How is this teaching them anything? This could be the biggest backfire punishment ever. That’s when I looked up to the porch and saw my daughter boohooing, and my son wouldn’t even look at me….they felt shame. And, that meant I did my job as a parent. They should feel bad.
My daughter kept running out to the yard begging me to stop mowing and doing her job. You would’ve thought it was a scene from “Terms of Endearment” the way she was carrying on. And, my son just kept his head down because he felt like dirt that he had his mom doing his job.
All in a good days work of a mom.
After I was done, and it took me less than an hour, both the kids came up to me and apologized that they complained. They didn’t realize if they didn’t do it, then I would have to. Really? Who did they think would do it? If only I could read the mind of the teenager. Then, they both said, “Mom, you won’t have a problem with us and the lawn again.” Nice, those words were music to my ears.
Remember that old saying that our parents used to say to us, “ This hurts me more than it hurts you.” It’s so true! Disciplining our children really is hard for us to do sometimes. I hate having to take things away, or instill boundaries on my kids. It’s no fun to see them all irritated with me and pitch fits. It would be so much easier to just let things go…right? Well, that may be the case for now, but it will backfire in the future. I don’t know about you guys, but my teens are exactly the way they should be…teens. But, if we don’t teach them and guide them, they will always stay that way. The point is to grow and mature into Christ-centered adults.
The Lord has given us all the tools we need to parent. He has given us amazing decision making skills, intuition, and best of all, the Bible. God’s word is really the road map to parenting, and we have it! So, don’t worry if you need to discipline your children. They won’t be scarred for life if they have to have to stay in their room for a while, or lose the T.V. for a week. They won’t get stuck in the fetal position if they have to clean the baseboards. And, they won’t need intensive therapy if they feel convicted of the bad choices they make. It’s okay! That’s how we learn. They are begging us to teach them. We all need discipline sometimes, and it’s one of the most loving things you can do. Your kids will thank you for it. It may be 20 years before they do it, but they will.
For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. Hebrews 12:6