I’ve been a parent for almost a quarter of a century (sounds more impressive that way!) and I’ve gotten lots of parenting tips throughout the years from many different sources. Books, TV, friends, my own parents … of course scripture. Some I’ve followed wholeheartedly. Some for a season. And some not at all.
I remember when my boys were young, I was adamantly opposed to guns. Real, imaginary. It didn’t matter. Swords were okay. But guns… they were just a slippery slope to violence. Right? Well, for those of us who have boys… it doesn’t matter if you take the toy guns away, they will find a way to reproduce them! Sticks, crescent-shaped rocks, Legos… you name it. The imagination is limitless. By the time I made it to number five child, it didn’t matter anymore. And I must add, they are all well-adjusted and not prone to violence despite the use of cap guns, pellet guns, paint guns, and air rifles ;).
We learn early on in our parenting to "win the battles," then later to "choose the battles wisely to win the war." And all along our poor husbands are unaware that for hours each day we (the moms/wives) are honing and perfecting our skills in debate!
As missionaries AND homeschoolers through most of our kids’ growing days, we were always together. Mostly together in the car driving for miles on end. Sometimes in a 15-passenger van that gave a little more elbow room, but usually in a 7-passenger SUV, scrunched together with pillows for napping and a dog in the middle.
The road stretched out before us and, for Peter and I, it became the best time to talk. And with that, occasionally ;), a time to argue. Friendly crossfire. Hot debates. And a few knockdown, drag out matches. And many times we didn’t even realize how quiet the car had become when we got really personal!
Ears perked up! And they listened. They listened to everything. And one day someone passed on to me the best parenting advice I ever received… the one thing that stuck, even when we broke it:
As parents, it is better to be united than to be right.
That one can set you on a tailspin ;). How often we want … NEED… to be right! I know I do. It is my Achilles’ heal. The thorn in my side.
The day someone shared that truth with me was the day I realized that it was better for us, Peter and I, to be united together, especially before our children, than it was for either one of us to be right, to win the battle, to prove our point. That was the moment things changed for me.
Sounds simple enough. But it’s not. Some days it takes a Holy Spirit-enabled humility to step down, to walk away, to annihilate the drive to win. Even with silly things like which way is the best way home or how to prepare the roast. To relinquish my need to be right for the higher calling… unity. And lots of days I fail.
But this is my goal. This is my desire. And it’s worth fighting for. For the battles... And to win the war :). Because, for my children, to see us united, bound together in one spirit despite our differences, invests a far greater treasure in their lives than to know which parent can out-talk the other!
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).
I would love to hear from you. Do you struggle with the desire to be right? What helps you? What is the best parenting advice you've ever heard?
Share with me! And if you comment or email, I will put your name in a hat to receive a new book. If you share this blog on your Facebook or webpage, I will enter your name twice. This month's title to win is: