I am sure you’ve never been out in public with young children and been embarrassed by their behavior. Never, not you. Not your kids. But just…
Having fun is kind of a big deal. At least it is according to our kids.
But then again, to most adults it is too. In a lot of ways, “fun” is what most people live for. We won’t go somewhere if it doesn’t sound fun (unless we have to). We won’t pursue something if fun won’t come with it. Anything “boring,” well…that is just out of the question.
It’s no wonder our kids want their days to be packed with fun, and they end up complaining the second it feels boring!
I recently had one of those incidents in which a child of mine said she didn’t want to go somewhere (that we needed to go) because “it’s not fun.” While this objection was not terribly surprising, there was a moment in which I felt sad for her. I was even tempted to reconsider my plans. But then it dawned on me, there is actually quite a lot riding on my response to her complaint.
We Are Shaping How They View Life
Children naturally think the world revolves around them. I don’t mean that in a harsh way, it’s just the truth. But since the world doesn’t revolve around them, it’s our job as parents to teach our children how to look outside of themselves. If I were to change my plans, I certainly wouldn’t be communicating that other people and our plans with them have importance too. Even if my plans were not all that noble, changing my plans would communicate, “what YOU want is what YOU get” which is just not true on a practical level. What a disservice I would do her if she left my home thinking she should always get what she wants. I would be setting her up for lifelong trouble if she went into the world, and her future relationships, thinking that life is centered around her.
In reality, there is a lot in life that is just “not fun,” and it’s crucial to learn how to get through these times well. In my daughter’s world, this is a little like a trial. And just like trials give us adults opportunities to grow, these small teeny tiny trials can grow our kids. With practice, our children can grow to make the most of what is not fun. They can be challenged to endure without complaining. They can be encouraged to be thankful amidst situations they don’t like. All-in-all, this can be good for them.
Perhaps most importantly, there are good things that we ought to do, and lack of fun doesn’t negate that. I hope that one day my daughter will turn from her sin and choose to follow Christ with her whole life. When she makes that decision, she will realize her life is not her own. She will be living for the Savior that died for her – and that often involves costly obedience. There will be plenty that she doesn’t want to do, for far more difficult reasons than “lack of fun.” So this is training ground. I pray she leaves her years in our home with an ability to put her desires aside, so she can do the right thing — regardless of the cost.
Learning These Lessons NOW Is Key!
How I respond to my daughter’s plea to “not make her go” is setting a precedent that will VERY MUCH impact the following days, weeks and years. On top of all of the long-term character issues, there are more immediate ramifications at stake. The complaints from our young ones now can easily turn into protests from our teenagers later. But it doesn’t need to. Let’s do the hard work while they are young. They are moldable; they are willing to listen. Help them see the world from a bigger angle. Train their minds to look outside of themselves. Teach them that there is more to life than having fun. If we train them now, we will surely reap the benefits as time goes on.
I’m not saying handling this situation correctly now will ensure all goes perfectly later. However, I am saying, our training now matters. On a variety of levels, life will go better for your child (and for you as their parent) if they learn that life is not all about fun.
The Big Question
We are all familiar with the famous Proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This, of course, is a principle, a wise saying, a proverb (not a promise). The over-arching principle is – What you teach your kids will impact their life. It is making a difference, and it will make a difference for years to come.
So when you hear, “I don’t want to go,” the question is – what do you want to teach your child?
When I recently faced this dilemma, I decided I wanted my daughter to know I love her, and because I love her I want to teach her that fun is not all that matters. There is much more. I wanted her to see this as an opportunity to grow and learn how to handle the parts of life that she doesn’t like. And I want to train her to be willing to do what mommy says is best, just like I hope she will one day, on her own, choose to do what God says is best.
She might not take in all of the potential character lessons right away, but little by little, boring event after boring event, she will learn…and Lord willing, she will grow…and I pray, she will one day be teaching her little ones there is more to life than having fun. Much more.