Wednesday, April 10, 2013
One of Those Families by Cynthia McCutcheon
One of Those Families
While having lunch with my oldest son who happens to now be 21 (Gasp! I can’t be that old) he shared with me that we are now “one of those families.”
My thoughts were, “Ok you’ve got my attention” and with an unsure expression I nervously asked, “One of those families?”
He explains. “Mom, sitting in restaurants and looking around you will see all these families having a meal together. Most sit quietly with some interaction, soft conversations, and maybe stern words given to the kids or even those devoid of anything except getting through the meal BUT then there is that family. You know, that family in the corner having a ball not being obnoxious but truly enjoying the company of each other. You’ll even notice other tables leaning in to hear the conversation or occasionally giggling because that family is intriguing. Well mom, our family has finally become THAT FAMILY.”
When I heard these words my heart leaped, my eyes brimmed with tears and a smile filled my body from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. Why? Because not too long ago, our family was nowhere near being described as “That Family”.
When both my boys were very little my husband and I took a parenting class that gave us several tools. Two of these tools stuck hard with us.
The first was you are not to be your child’s best friend. Your goal was to be their friend in early adult years and beyond, but as a child they don’t need your friendship they need your guidance. At times this was very hard. When we moved to areas where I had no friends close, it was easy to try to make my boys my best friends. When they struggled with their friendships it was tempting to become their best bud. Both of those were unhealthy for many reasons and I would have to remember that my role was to guide them, train them up in the way they should go but not let them be my equal. Playmate at times – yes, having fun is a must!!!!
The other was the funnel theory. If you have a funnel, take it out and give it a long look. Imagine if you will that the smallest end lines up with the youngest age of the child. The edges are closer together at that point and therefore the freedoms for the child are limited. You wouldn’t want a child at the age of one having the freedom to drive a car or stay out to midnight would you? So as the funnel edges are close together some are the freedoms. As the child gets older and matures you give more freedoms. Did you notice I threw in the word mature? There were times that we had to pull our sons back into tighter restraints of the funnel when their maturity didn’t match the freedoms of that age. Oh that hurt us and them, and no we weren’t very popular. But once they were ready they were given that freedom again instilling the need for maturity to handle situations and appreciation for it in the long run.
Yes, there have been times when both my boys thanked me for pulling them back with a tighter rein or guiding them instead of being their friend, but it didn’t come without heart ache.
Clashes marked our lives throughout the journey of child rearing. My husband and I clashed on parenting styles. I thought he was too harsh, and he thought I was too lenient. My older son and my husband clashed hard on many occasions. The battle ensued with my husband trying to pull the reigns tighter and my son fighting with all his might to break them. My younger son became jealous of the older having looser reins (he is 3 years older) and gave up on school work causing a whirlwind of issues. Each time this momma’s heart broke and cried out to God to bring my family back together.
Currently I am weeks away from my youngest son graduating from high school and the doors of the world will be opened wider to him. The time of pulling my children back into the funnel are coming close to an end but the friendship time is just beginning. So when my son declared we were now “One of Those Families,” I become like Mary the mother of Jesus and hid these things in my heart.
You may be just beginning or knee deep in the child rearing years but my sister, I want to encourage you to train up your child today and be their friend tomorrow. Maybe one day your child will tell you are “One of Those Families”!