October 26, 2009

Reality Parenting—Making the Grade

Written By Cary Schmidt

Wanting to know the truth of where we stand with our kids

I had a cute conversation at my daughter’s bedside last night, before we prayed. It went something like this:

“Haylee, if you had to give me an A, B, C, D, or F as a daddy, tell how you would grade me…” she tried to interrupt, but I continued, “…in the area of listening to you.”

“A+” she said with a smile. (Didn’t think I would do so good on that one.)

“How about in giving you my attention when you need it?”

This time she paused to think, “A-minus…” (Twice, I was higher than expected.)

“What about in coming quickly enough when it’s time to pray with you at night?”

Long hesitation, then a wry smile, “You want the truth?” (She’s nine.)

“Yes, I want the complete truth… no matter what.”

“Hmmm… maybe a B…” hesitation again, then, “…or lower…”

I could tell she didn’t want to hurt my feelings. “C-plus?” I asked.

“…or lower…” (insert slight giggle here) “maybe just a C.”

The conversation continued for several moments as we played this very important “game”—me inventing areas for her to grade, and her giving the truth. Fortunately, I passed, but I definitely walked away with a few things to work on. And what a life lesson!

Our kids know where we fail, and will forgive us—if we would have the courage to make them comfortable telling us the truth.

As we prayed, I promised her I would work on those things that were “less than an A-plus.” She smiled, we hugged, and she went to sleep. Then I thought, “Why haven’t I asked my kids these questions more frequently?”

I’m not suggesting that we formulate our whole parenting philosophy on our children’s bed-time opinion polls. But, let’s face it, it’s tough to nurture the heart if we don’t have it!

Maybe we could call it “reality parenting”—knowing exactly where you stand with your kids. If I’m getting a failing grade with my children, I’d better work on mebefore I try to work on them!

Sometimes the truth hurts a bit, but it’s always a great reality-check. If we want our children to follow our God and own our values, we must begin by knowing where we stand with their hearts.

Parent, I echo Haylee’s words to me last night—do you want the truth?

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” (Proverbs 23:26)