One summer when daughter Bethany was about 13, we were, shall we say, frequently at odds with one another? It was, ahem, the middle school years, and those aliens I've mentioned before were taking over. I decided I was going to keep her out of my ha-- I mean, extremely busy with productive activities.
First on the agenda was a trip to Atlanta to see her cousins. Her Aunt Bonnie, my sister, is the hostess with the mostess, and showed her and Tiger a marvelous time. "Mom," she said when she got off the plane, "why do we live in this city? There is nothing to do here."
A few weeks later, it was time to go to youth camp. Camp was a big part of my life growing up and I love to send my kids. Upon arriving home, she announced it really wasn't THAT much fun this year.
Next came our church's junior high choir tour. We went to the mall to get the required performance clothes. She didn't like them--the khaki skirts were ugly, she said, and WHY did they have to be so LONG?
It took me all summer to realize that my plan had backfired. The more I had tried to entertain her, the more she complained. By the end of the summer, I had created a monster.
"Uh, Bethany," I spoke up when summer was nearly over, "next summer you are going to have to pay for all your activities yourself."
"Babysitting, or whatever else you can come up with."
"You have been nothing but ungrateful this whole summer," I said.
"But I said thank you."
"Figure it out," I said (that's one of my favorite things to say). End of discussion.
The last of the summer agenda was a week long inner city Vacation Bible School ministry. I started to keep her home, but decided she was already committed. I dropped her off on Monday, knowing the nature of this trip was very different from the others. They would be sleeping on a gym floor, working outside all day in the Memphis heat and having meals like canned ravioli and pbj for dinner. I wasn't sure what kind of mindset she would be in when I picked her up on Friday.
I pulled up and she bounced out to the car, beaming. "Out of everything I've done all summer, this week had the deepest impact on me."
Proverbs 27:7 says, "He that is full loathes honey, but to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet."
A glaring parenting principle is hidden in this Proverb: Keep kids a little hungry instead of allowing them to get overstuffed.
They'll be grateful you did. Just ask my beaming Bethany.
PS. Thank you, sweet Bethany, for giving me permission to share this!