It’s rare that I lose sleep over something that’s on my mind. But that was the case last night. What was running through my head were countless conversations with parents about their child’s health and the lies that we as parents tell ourselves to justify the choices we make with our kid’s health.
The Lie You Tell Yourself
Parent: I know my kid doesn’t react well to sugar and wheat but I don’t want to restrict it because when he is older, I don’t want him going to college or leaving home and going overboard in rebellion and getting sick.
Me: Let’s change the characters in that story. Instead of nutrition, let’s use cocaine or prostitution.
‘I know cocaine isn’t good for my child but if I don’t expose him to the rock at such a young age, when he is an independent adult, he may O.D. of cocaine when he’s 26.’
‘I know I shouldn’t trick out my daughter at such a young age but if I don’t pimp her out now in a controlled manner, she may become a full fledged prostitute when she’s older.’
Those are extreme Dr. Kurt, come on.
What about potty training? The season we are currently enjoying.
‘I don’t want to force my child to go on the potty because when he’s older, he may rebel and just use his pants as his personal porta-potty.’
The Root Cause
Why do so many parents think like this? Why are so many parents afraid of setting boundaries and sticking to them with their kids? I think because we have confused what our roles of parents should be.
Our role as a parent isn’t to make a child happy. Our role as a parent is to make a child strong.
Want to make a child happy? Feed him ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, have zero naps, no bed time, and let him play Superman in the middle of traffic. Ridiculous? Yup. But he’s happy, right?
Your role is to make your child strong. This doesn’t mean you have to be militant in your approach but you do have to be intentional…almost all of the time. When you look at the people you consider strong (physically, mentally, spiritually, academically), what do you observe? Routine schedules, consistency, and environments to practice failing.
Plain and simple, this is love. As a society we have mistakenly lumped love as 100% acceptance. Not so, love is equal parts acceptance and challenge. It balances out to 50/50, though there will be seasons where one side is more prevalent.
The solution is easy. You’re the adult in the relationship, so be one. And when your little child becomes an adult, you can speak to them adult to adult.
If your fear is that your rules will drive your kid into rebellion, that’s a YOU problem, not your kid. Your kid is already innately rebellious. Stop projecting your insecurities of failure on your child that still has 10-15 years before they become an adult.
Your child will become an adult and will have to make adult decisions. Now is not that time, they are a child, you’re the adult. And when they become an adult, you have to let them make those decisions, whether you agree or disagree.
But while you still have full influence in their lives, use that time and energy to make them strong now. Have the faith that they will make the right decisions later and not become meth addicts later because you didn’t let them have it today.
The comments and pushback I get from other parents and relatives when I say my child cannot have sugar, soda, or processed foods, is ‘come on, you can’t control everything she eats and drinks!’ Well actually it is my job to make sure my toddler is properly nourished and doesn’t develop health problems related to poor diet…,
You are spot on!
I think one reason that parents struggle is that they are not fully convinced OR they struggle themselves and do not want to give up sugar. I see it within my own grown children’s families. Whenever I have my grandchildren in the car and they break out some candy they got from school ( the schools had it out like crazy!!) I tell them that I don;t allow drugs in the car and they have to put it away. We have had these discussions and they know I am firmly anti-drug and that includes sugar. I m not sure how much difference it makes when society pushes it as a drug of choice for children! But it is our responsibility as adults to be the adults and be firm- in a loving way and because we LOVE them. Thank you for the reminder.