I was running errands for the church yesterday and I got a chance to listen to an hour of uninterrupted Dr. Laura on the radio. A mother called in to ask for advice with her children. She said that her teens hadn’t learned a life of responsibility. Dr. Laura asked what she thought the problem was and the mom said she gave them everything without asking for anything in return. Now, they didn’t want to hold their end of the bargain. Oh, I thought, the old you never value what you don’t earn philosophy is true.
The frustrated mom said she’d asked her 19 year-old to move out. Dr. Laura seemed to think this was fine as she asked the mother if she was still giving financial support. The mom sighed and said, she knew she had to stop. Dr. Laura sounded discouraged and said the mother was in essence feeding her child poison. Oh, I thought, so you move your child out but continue to pay the bills so, what does that do?
I listened intently and really got a visual for this. While we as parents have a responsibility to raise independent, respectful, productive citizens of the planet many of us, through overindulgence in many areas, we feed our children poison. It was sad.
I watch a young mom in our church as she struggles with her grade school child. I see her really trying to do the right things and get her child on track. I also see that she is met with opposition by well-meaning people. I try to encourage her and help her in her parenting as much as I can. I see her effort and her exasperation as she takes a deep breath, gets up and goes for it on a daily basis. She is working hard to feed her child the right stuff. Lord, I pray, let it work Lord. Let it work!
Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. It’s not popular in our society. I heard a mom say, “Kids aren’t afraid of their father’s disappointed looks anymore.” I remember wanting more than anything to please my father. Only, the problem is that as the bible says, there are many teachers but not many fathers.
After Dr. Laura’s comment about feeding your children poison, I sat back and realized that we do this in so many ways. When we don’t hold them to a basic standard of living. My husband flips out when he hears fathers who allow their daughters boyfriends to spend the night. He says to me, “Who does that? Come use my daughter. She’s free, hey we’ll even feed you!” It drives him crazy.
My child was caught doing something they had been forbidden to do last week. Of course their first response was to lie/deny. Their second response was to say they didn’t do it and blame “a friend” for the issue. Finally it was to confess and blame us for our “stupid rules”. Only we opted not to feed poison. We offered the rich meal of consequence. Was there hell to pay with the kid? Sure! Absolutely! Honestly, though as followers of Christ it is our job literally to get the HELL out of our kids life by whatever method that takes. And no I don’t mean leave the kid alone. I mean literally get HELL out of their life.
Feeding them poison can be in not giving them a bedtime so that they get enough sleep and can do well in school. Feeding them poison can be by allowing them to be couch potatoes who battle obesity. Feeding them poison can be not giving nutritious meals. Feeding them poison can be through our hateful behavior or being too busy to hang out with them. Feeding them poison can be by overcompensating for our guilt.
So while Dr. Laura was talking to this woman about how to stop financially supporting their child, I saw a bigger picture. One that explains how we get to where this mom is. Don’t let this be us Lord! Please, don’t let this be us!
One thought on “Eating Poison”
During my divorce, I went to counseling for a bout a year to make sure I was doing my best to keep a godly attitude. In the course of this time I asked the dude if overindulgence was a form of abuse in his opinion and he said an unequivocal “yes!”
His explanation went something like this (it’s been four years so I can only remember the essence not the exact words): When we overindulge our children, we are teaching them what the world will be like. Only, we are giving them any tools for the real world but disabling them for it. They think the world owes them a living when in reality the only way the world can continue to exist on sound financial and social footing is if everyone works to make it happen.
Those who live off others or are co-dependent grow into leeches, sucking their personal relationships and eventually society dry. To make a child think they can get something for nothing is to feed them a lie—one which will either curse them with poverty and welfare or land them in jail, to name the extremes. Yet there are many other forms of prison and welfare that aren’t socially recognized as such and I believe being tied to the parents financial apron strings to be one of them.
To send a child out into the world after twenty-plus years of insulating them from its reality is cruel, irresponsible and speaks to a parents need of a quick fix two assuage their own guilt and shut up their children’s protests without creating security in their characters.