It had been almost 6 months since I had seen my two grandbabies. That’s a long time for any grandparent, but especially when your grandbabies are only 2 ½ years and 10 months old. Lots of milestones missed. So when my son and daughter-in-law asked me if I’d be willing to fly to their new home and babysit, I jumped at the chance. Not sure who was more excited. My son and daughter in law who just completed their seventh military move, or this grandma desperate for snuggles and kisses you just can’t get over Facetime.
Our 2 year old granddaughter Lucy is a spitting image of her mommy and daddy. Her fair skin and fine blond hair stick out like a sore thumb in her new neighborhood. So are the things she’s learning. What I saw while I was there made my heart melt.
You see, Lucy is at that terrific age we like to call the “terrible twos"- the season of life where little ones begin that quest for autonomy and independence. It is a pivotal season for parents in deciding who’s going to rule the home. It can be a battle at times,but it’s one that parents MUST engage in if kids have any chance at success later in life.
Because our son is gone for long stretches at a time with the military, it is our daughter-in-law, Lane, who has had to bear the brunt of this battle. She is a rock star! If you are a single parent and have given up the fight because it is “too hard”, please keep reading. It can be done.
I am a proud “Mama” but I know Lucy is not perfect. After all, she’s two; I don’t expect her to be. What I am amazed at is what she’s already learning at home. Since she’s been able to walk and talk, she has already learned some priceless life lessons. Here's just a few:
“You’re not the Boss”- Lucy knows that Mommy, Daddy, and anyone else over her care are the boss not her. The respect for authority and the insistence on obeying starts from the moment they can walk and talk. There is no room for negotiating on the topic of respecting authority. Learning this important lesson early and reinforcing it at every stage of development equips your child for the real world and sets them up for success later on. We will always have people in authority over us in life. Better to get used to it early.
“No Manners, No Way”-At the age of two, Lucy already knows that manners are a must. It is “Yes, please” and “No thank you” if she has any chance of getting what she wants. Even getting up from the table after a meal requires a polite ask to be excused
“Waiting not Whining”-Whether it’s entertaining herself before dinner or waiting in the check-out line, patience is a learned behavior. Throwing fits never gets her what she wants.
“We’re A Team”-Serving at the Hutch house starts young. Everyone has a job. It may be picking up toys, throwing a diaper in the trash, or putting dishes in the sink, but even a two year old can help.
“You are Loved”-There’s not a day that goes by that Lucy doesn’t hear, “I love you”. But words are not enough. Children can pick up on your mood and emotions. Be careful disciplining in anger. Make sure you always circle back around and reassure your child that they are loved. It makes a child feel safe and secure.
“Follow Me”-None of the lessons above mean anything unless they are practiced as well as taught. The old saying of “walking the walk not just talking the talk” is so true. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 1 says, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” Whether you like it or not, your child is watching your every move and will learn best by what is modeled around them. When in doubt look to the example of Christ. He is the ultimate role model. If you don’t respect and obey authority, most likely they won’t either. If you don’t serve others with a generous heart, how will they ever learn to? As a parent if you don’t regularly remind them how much they are loved, they will go searching for someone who will and chances are it won’t be in a positive way.
I know none of this is rocket science, so why aren't more parents doing it? Respect for authority, manners, serving others are just some of the few character qualities that are becoming extinct in society today. So many parents have disengaged. Giving in seems so much easier to an exhausted dad or overwhelmed mom. Tablets and smartphones with instant gratification have replaced parenting and patience.
Let’s turn the tide in this next generation. I'm so thankful for the many young parents who are setting some healthy boundaries and basic life rules in their family. Let’s get back to those virtues and qualities that not only make our home one of peace and love but our world a much better place to live.