Opposites are like that. Lotsa chemistry, not too much agreement. But parents are supposed to present a united front, right? After all, we are mature adults, right? If only.
I don’t know about you and your opposite, but at our house we had to learn how to navigate our perspectives, which often seemed to polarize. In fact, opposites who naturally gravitate to opposite perspectives can create a beautiful dynamic when they learn to practice patience. Okay, and maybe a handful of other skills.
Perhaps you are chuckling because you have the same dynamic at your house. Oh, what effort we put into parenting! Or, heck, just into trying to agree. As young parents, Dave and I analyzed every decision from every angle. These days I tell young parents that kids are a lot harder to ruin than you might think. Thank heavens.
Blame Now, Credit Later
When our 3-year old daughter announced she was not going to hug her grandparents goodbye, Dave and I privately winced and worried. What a striking break with the family tradition! We backed her plan, though, in spite of foreseeing inevitable hurt feelings. Naturally, we wanted our daughters convinced that they were the boss of their own bodies. We live in an era when “no” means absolutely not. Even to grandparent hugs. Dave and I discussed our pending discomfort with gloom, like two convicts sentenced to life in prison.
“I will take the blame now because it will be credit later,” Dave finally said. My young heart pattered with pride at his strength. We figured we would get credit in eternity when we stood before the Lord with clear consciences, but not before.
Months passed and tension grew as our assertive three-year-old daughter dashed out the door without a proper hug for her traditional grandparents. Dave’s parents’ perspective was founded in an era when children showed their respect for their elders with certain formalities. Who could blame them if they questioned our modern methods?
The day our astute little girl decided all by herself to crawl up into Grandpa’s lap, wrap her arms around him, and tell him she loved him prompted a joyous call from Dave’s mom and dad. No parental prompting required. Suddenly, we were geniuses. Her grandparents embraced the wisdom of letting our little girl choose to express affection spontaneously. Oh, the joy of free will, freely expressed in love! Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out marvelously. I’ve learned to push pause on my impatience when my husband and I don’t agree. Or when our kids challenge our favorite traditions.
The Joy of Free Will
In fact, if love is measured in unconditional, initiating love, no one deserved our kids’ affection and respect more than their grandparents. Who could resist the beauty of a free will inspired to love others. It was true justice when our children hugged their grandparents spontaneously. Their grandparents were wonderful to them. Kids seem to have an instinct for justice and true love, don’t they?
Give Your Conscience Credit
Maybe today you are in a spot where you need to take a stand, perhaps behind the scenes with your spouse, your kiddos, or your extended family. Sometimes we have to go with our conscience, even against the grain of family tradition. If so, please be comforted in the thought that blame now will be credit sooner or later.
As a couple, you can patiently defer to each other behind the scenes. Even when we come at life from opposite ends of the spectrum, unified parents can trust each other. We can wait for the moment when God’s own love of justice and initiating love will find a way to bring balance to His universe. Blame now often means credit later.
May I pray for you?
Dear God, please bless the family of this dear reader. Give this dear one the confidence in Your love and justice to be able to patiently stand for what is beautiful and healthy in the family. Bless this reader’s mind to understand wisdom, bless this heart to respond to Your love by giving it to others freely with joy. Give this dear reader the patience to kindly respect the other parent as they figure out together what is best for their children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Personality, specializing in Christian Marriage and Family invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.