Lessons From a Duck
An online friend told of watching a mother duck eating a beak full of fish she had caught, while sitting right in front of her several nearly-adult offspring. This story reminds me of the old children's tale about "Little Red Hen". All of her “friends” refused to help her harvest her wheat, or to help grind it, or to help her make bread from the flour. When it was time to eat the yummy-smelling, freshly baked bread, they all wanted to help, but the Little Red Hen refused. She explained that since none of them would help her with preparing wheat & the bread, they didn't deserve to “help” her eat it.
I think that parents of adult children would be much better off if they did like the Little Red Hen. There comes a time when, barring drastic circumstances, parents need to inform their offspring that it's time for them to get out in the real world & learn to fend for themselves, AND to learn from & pay for their own mistakes. When our daughters were in high school we started talking to them about & preparing them for the time when they would be “leaving the nest”. Before leaving home for good they all had jobs & were handling their own money & some of their living expenses. This included paying 1/5 of the house payment, since there are 5 people in our family. They also pitched in a small amount for groceries.
But their preparation for adulthood really started when they were very small. We taught them important life lessons like being thankful for what you have instead of always wishing for more; taking responsibility to clean up after yourself; & the importance & blessings of working together as a family on things that would benefit us all.
As Christian parents we stressed biblical principals like respect for others, especially for parents, elders & people in authority; & the importance of being honest, even when it hurts, or when it seems that “a little white lie” would somehow seem easier or better. Which leads to the fact that just because something seems “easier” or “better”, or because “everyone else does it”, doesn't mean that it really is a good or wise thing to do.
Above all, we didn't just spout a list of “do this” & “don't to that's”, we supported each principle with Scripture, & often also with biblical examples. This way they could literally see right from wrong, good ideas from bad ideas, & the results in peoples' lives of making both right & wrong choices. We also used situations on TV to reinforce the benefits of building good character & habits.
If your children know that you love them, & will love them no matter what, & that you only want what is best for them & your family as a whole, & to prepare them for living on their own, your house rules will become guidelines for them as adults. Refusing to have any house rules is actually very unloving & selfish of parents. Indulging your children won't help them become mature, responsible adults, or prepare them to handle themselves in their future adult world.
Some people thought we leaned too hard on our girls, & we've wondered about it ourselves at times. But our ways of teaching & helping them to grow certainly did them no harm, & each of them has told us as adults that they are grateful for our strict yet loving parenting, & that it helped them avoid some harmful & dangerous situations, including some that their friends encountered.
The current trend of leniency by parents with their children is an all-too-common problem these days, & its effects are very distressing. Letting them do whatever they want as long as they aren't being physically hurt or hurting others seems to be the norm, & it is having serious, even devastating results. Nurturing & trying to keep things positive is fine. Parents & children should love each other & maintain a strong & close bond that lasts through their life times. But true love for our children must be tempered with a guidance, including some clearly stated rules & restrictions, with reasons given for their purpose. It will likely require occasional discipline in cases such as willful disobedience or serious irresponsibility or rebellion, but it will yield well-grounded, responsible & caring adults.