Sunday, March 20, 2011

Teach a Child the Way They Should Go... And Hope They Don't Fall Off That Path

Children need models more than they need critics.
~Joseph Joubert

I came home the other day and Tiffany told me a story about Emma.

She was playing with her friends, like four or five of them, when one girl told a little lie, that she was grounded from playing with friends (and then proceeded to essentially invite all but one of the friends to come with her to her house). Another one of these friends then turned to Emma and said that she did not like this girl (the one being abandoned) and that Emma shouldn’t either.

Emma found herself in a dilemma. The dilemma you are asked theoretically in Sunday School and always think never really happens. But there she was, in the middle of it.

Now, before I move on. Part of this situation I am sure is due to the nature of the individuals, but mainly, it’s just girls being girls. I saw them all playing again a day or two after this happened.

But Emma’s response made me a proud papa. No, she didn’t tell the girls to behave, and get along. She didn’t tell the girls off and present, perhaps, a more Christ-like way of handling the situation. She also didn’t simply just disagree and go play with this friend who was becoming a short-term outcast.

She went to talk to her mom. She wanted some advice from her mother as to what she should do.

That’s it. I don’t care how the rest of this played out. The fact that she went to Tiffany in a time where she was either confused, or unsure of how to respond, was a blessed event in my life.

Tiffany and I have always hoped that this would happen. Of course we want our kids to make good decisions on their own. But, we also know what it is like to navigate those early years. The moral compass isn’t fully developed or understood. The desire for acceptance is large. The need to avoid embarrassment weighs heavy on these our young people. And so we hope and desire that our children will trust us enough to talk to us when they think something is amiss and they don’t know what to do about it.

She is only 8. There is a lot of time between now and the end of adolescence. There will, no doubt and unfortunately, be times that not all decisions will lead her to her mother for help. But if she trusts her mother enough to turn to her now, there is hope that she will do the same thing when she is 16 or 18 and has a question that only a mother can answer.

Or maybe even, heaven forbid, her father.

But even at a young age she knows, Mama always knows best.



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