The other day I came across this post from Michelle at Scribbit, telling of how she and her husband had decided to move their middle-school son from his chosen school back to the school his siblings were attending. It was a tough decision, and one that was not going to be welcomed by their son . . . and yet they realized that good parenting sometimes means making the tough calls. I especially appreciated her five parenting guidelines:
1. Observe, interact, and love. Not necessarily in that order.
2. Kids need reasons. (Besides, “Because I said so.”)
3. Tackle problems early on — don’t procrastinate hoping it’ll go away.
4. Remember that positive outcomes come from painful experiences.
5. Don’t be afraid to make hard calls — it’s what you’re “paid” to do.
I could totally relate to her story. Although my kids are younger than Michelle’s, I’ve already had to make these tough calls on more than one occasion: an association with a neighbor kid whose knowledge of “birds and bees” was far more developed than I could stomach. The time we had their sister placed in another home. The time I had Sarah get blood drawn, even after I’d mistakenly told her that she wasn’t getting a shot that day. (The effects of the last one were not as far-reaching, but the immediate unpleasantness was just as bad.)
Down the line, the results of these choices may turn out to be better or worse than anticipated. Chris finds it hard to make friends, at least partly because he’s worried that the attachment won’t last for long (not unreasonable, since he has already lost one set of parents, two siblings, and several friends). Their sister, however, has turned out to be a beautiful young woman who has positively thrived in her new home. And the iron levels in Sarah’s blood, it turns out, were absolutely normal (that is, she didn’t need the blood draw).
Which brings me to one more guideline of my own creation, to add to Michelle’s original five: Once you’ve made a call, don’t second-guess yourself. Just ask God to help you make the best decision possible, with all the information you have. Then leave that choice in God’s hands, knowing that — for better or worse — you have done the best job you knew how, to be the best parent you could be. In the end, that’s all any of us can do.
Lord, sometimes our world is very black and white. Other times, there are seas of gray.
Help us be faithful, in good times and bad. Grant us courage to love and obey.