Last night my wife told me about an interview she heard with a Christian psychologist. In it the woman claimed that we need to meet the needs of our children in creative ways. The example,
An adopted girls from Russia asks her mom for a Powerbar (c). Dinner is on the stove, it is 10 minutes from being ready.
How would you respond?
If you are like me, you would say,
“Honey, dinner is in ten minutes. You can’t have anything, just wait.” You might even add, “It’s your favorite.”
Now let me add a little more background to our example.
The daughter in the story was raise in an orphanage where there was a shortage of food. The children never had enough and always felt hungry.
Would this change your answer? For me, “No.”
Then my wife filled me in on what happened in real life in this situation. The girl stormed off, angry and upset shouting, “You don’t love me.” The reason, her need wasn’t met, it never has been met as far back as she can remember, when hunger strikes, no one meets the need. So what is one to do? How can we parent and not spoil.
The expert’s answer. Give them the powerbar, but then also say, “Here it is, please don’t eat it until after dinner. You can hold it, place it at the table or throw it in a pocket. But don’t eat it until after you have eaten what I am making, then if you are still hungry, dig in.” When I first heard this I was skeptical, but the mom in our example tried it and that is when she learned about the orphanage and the food shortages.
So what does all this mean to us as Christian parents: It is ok to meet the need, but maybe we could try placing some directives around it in order to shepherd our children to maturity.
I am still thinking about this style of parenting. It is counter-intuitive to me, but I think there is some promise. I would love to hear your thoughts.
I wish I could remember the expert’s name or the book she wrote, but I can’t. When I do, i will post it below: