Reprogramming the Next Generation

This past Saturday started out as any other Saturday. My wife and I planned to do a little house cleaning and then maybe lay by the pool and relax. Our “summer” has been a whirlwind of activity and this was the 1st Saturday’s in a while where we had nothing on the schedule. However, like the Robert Burns line from his poem ‘To a Mouse’, “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry”.

Saturday, I came to the stark realization, that without any intention or forethought, my wife and I have created two of the most privileged and entitled children on the planet (I exaggerate for effect). Our children are 14 and 10 years old. Yesterday, when asking our children to pitch-in, or help out with some of the housework, you would have thought we were asking them to give up a limb. Needless to say I was less than happy with them, and I embarrassed to say, my words and actions were definitely not godly.

As the day wore on, I continued to toil and stew in my disappointment and anger with my children, when I realized, I was the one I should be angry with. My wife and I had created these little “monsters”, for lack of a better term, and we would have to be the one’s to “reprogram” them. On top of the typical parental jobs, that are often viewed unpopular in today’s secular world, we now had the additional responsibility as parents of changing not only their way of thinking, but their world outlook. I prayed and prayed as I worked, but the Enemy and my humanity had taken over Saturday. Every chance I got to verbally “get on the children”, I did, and by dinner time I felt horrible. Physically, mentally, and spiritually; Saturday, I had failed my God, myself, and my children. Fortunately, we have a gracious and forgiving God and confession and repentance are all I need for His forgiveness.

I spoke with my wife about my thoughts and she agreed, “we had made the bed in which we were lying”. I said a prayer for patience and then I apologized to the kid’s for my behavior, actions, and words throughout the day. I explained why I was angry and it was actually no fault of their own. Fortunately, my children were gracious and accepted my apology, unfortunately, I don’t think they are quite as forgiving as God, as they were still a little upset by my berating’s. I suppose, rightfully so.

Over dinner, the discussion was about how my wife and I had dropped the ball when it came to teaching our children about “earning” benefits and extracurricular items. We talked about the difference between “needing” and “wanting”. We talked about having a “work ethic”, and being “responsible” and “accountable”. A lot of defining and example giving were needed, as I think most children of their generation have been endowed with a feeling of entitlement. Ultimately the discussion turned to changes that were going to be implemented in our home. Although our children are generally level-headed and understanding, this was not an idea or concept that either of them were happy with.

After dinner, we had a few errands to run and the discussion continued while we drove to, or walked through the various stores. We told them that sometimes even mom’s and dad’s don’t want to be responsible. We would love to not do what is expected of us and have fun, worry free day’s all the time. However, if we always acted like that, we would have no home, food, vehicles, pool, nice clothes, shoes… and the list went on. We explained, that by us giving them responsibilities, and their ability to complete assigned tasks well and without complaint, will actually be for their benefit as they grow up. I think they understood the message, but they definitely did not like the message. Who likes being responsible and accountable, especially when you are a kid?

I am going to continue to pray about this. I do not believe that we will have an easy task ahead of us. “Reprogramming” a mind is not an easy thing. In the military, you go to boot camp. This is, from what I recall, a 12 week program of intense physical and mental “reprogramming”. It is not fun or enjoyable, but you do learn how to be responsible and accountable, not only to yourself, but to others as well. In the end, the process does get results and you come out of boot camp a much different person than you go into boot camp. As much as I would like to implement such drastic changes, I don’t even have to ask permission. I know my wife will never allow such circumstances in our home. My wife is the nurturer in our home, and seeing our kid’s uncomfortable or unhappy in any way, is not easy for her. However, with a lot of prayer, patience, cooperation and teamwork, I know that both my wife and I will be able to produce quality, responsible and accountable adults. Even the kid’s agreed that is what they would like to grow into.

Now implementing these life lessons and “reprogramming” our children will not be easy, especially for my wife; but it is definitely what is best for our children, and she know’s that. So now a delicate balancing act begins for me. One with the kids, and one with my wife. However, now that my wife and I (and even the kid’s to a small extent) have agreed on a common goal – produce quality, responsible and accountable adults; I suspect that I will have a harder time keeping balance with my wife, than with my children. Either way, I will be praying for patience and discernment so I can attempt to keep peace in our home, while stretching the levels of discomfort for all of us.

By the way, we never did get to lay by the pool Saturday, but we did receive a lot of light in our lives! Praise and Glory to God!

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