That mother had it easier than you and I do. She had no hands and arms to be tempted to reach out and help. All she could do was patiently wait, honking her encouragement. Too many times we use those hands and arms when we shouldn’t, thinking we are doing the right thing, and our children grow up emotionally frail in the process, with a warped sense of their place in the world—usually the center, they think.
What would have happened if you had never let go of those little hands as your toddler tried his first steps? What would have happened if, when he tried to climb, you always came along, picked him up and put him where he was trying to go? What would happen now if every time something wasn’t exactly the way he wanted it, you came along and made it that way? Sooner or later he must find out that the world does not run to his schedule not his set of likes and dislikes, and the earlier he learns that the less painful it will be for all of you.
In his work, Keith has come across many young people who finally found out that their parents could not get them out of trouble as they were hauled off to prison in manacles. Once, a nineteen-year-old probationer thought he could bypass some of the rules of his sentence, namely his officer checking to see if he was home where he belonged, because “I have a mean dog.”
“Lock him up,” Keith said. “That’s your responsibility because I will be doing my job, which is your punishment for your crime. If you don’t, I have authority to stop the dog any way it takes.”
“Bbbbbbut you can’t hurt my dog,” he blubbered.
“YOU will be hurting your dog,” his officer told him, and finally got through. He did the crime because he thought he could get away with it—mama and daddy had always gotten him out of trouble before. Now he had to pay the consequences. I wonder if his parents ever did make him do something he did not want to do as a child.
God gave those goslings a goose, a mother who would stand there and patiently wait while her children tried and learned and grew stronger even with their failures. He gave a goose who would honk her encouragement when they fell flat on their backs, urging them with “love” to get up and try again.
Some parents don’t have the sense God gave a goose when they raise their children. What do you think will happen if you fix every problem and adjust every situation to their liking? As adults they will be persistently dissatisfied and miserable, or constantly in trouble and probably devoid of true friends who are tired of always having to do things their way. Certainly love them, but “learn” to love them in the hard things (Titus 2:4). Teach them, discipline them, tell them they can do it and cheer them on. Add a more “tactile” form of exhortation when necessary. Give them words of encouragement, of admonishment, of rebuke, of love. That is why God gave them parents instead of a goose.
Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching…My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. Proverbs 4:1-2,20-21
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