If a wife will but let her husband fail, he will learn some of the things it takes to be a good husband. I've spoken on this and probably at length. What I have not really touched on at all, is the subject of rearing children. I'm a big believer in a mother raising her children via the resources God gave her such as her instinct, her love for them, and the Bible. I know the family unit is under attack today and I feel extremely helpless to teach anything to those mothers who refuse to take up the responsibility for rearing their children themselves. My only hope is to maybe give those mothers who have eyes to see some extra tools they can throw into their repertoire if they choose to do so. Even if they choose not to, maybe something I say will spark some ingenuity and they will think of other tools they can use to mold their children. The tool I use the most is the first one God provided to humans and the one He uses the most...the one of natural consequences. Natural consequences, if left in tact and aren't manipulated, are great teachers.
I have three children, one of which is a 17-year-old son who, at the moment, is exploring the possibility that he has no boundaries. Let me first say, I'm not his boss. Simple. It is not my job to harp on him. It's not my job to cut him checks for work produced. It's not my job to dictate. It's not my job to fire him if he doesn't perform up to my standards.
Let me state what my job is and please read the next line slowly.
It is my job to mold a suitable husband for his future wife.
Think about what your husband does that gets on your nerves. Does he take several shirts out of his drawers to find the one he wants, throwing the rest in a heap back in the drawer? Does he have problems with work ethic? Would you want a husband who disrespected you and undermined you at every turn? Think about what you love about your husband. Does he bless you with taking you to a Mexican fast food place whenever possible? (Thank you, Daniel! I appreciate that whenever possible you look to cut me a break in the cooking and give me the treat of Taco Tico!) Is he great with fixing things? Is he patient when helping your children with homework? Think about what Proverbs 31 says about what one should look for in a wife and teach that to your daughter, and teach your son to be the kind of person a noble woman would want to marry. A man who will give her the freedom to be industrious. A man who doesn't rule over her, but takes her opinions into consideration. You want to mold a strong, virtuous husband.
Back to my son. Putting laundry away to him means rolling it in a ball and throwing it in a drawer and that's on a good day. I found this out the way most mothers do. I seen the state of his drawers. Now, I'm not one who relishes doing a chore over again because someone else messed my work up. My instinct is to rant to him that I'm not a slave. My love for him might make me feel like putting his drawer back to rights. Firstly, before you react, take a moment. You don't want the peace of your home broken. You've stumbled upon a teachable moment. That is all. Get a hold of your temper and be a well-adjusted human being before embarking on a course of action.
What I did is I told him how I felt and related it to him in the form of something he has experienced. I feel like he takes my work and throws it in a ball in a drawer. This is hurtful and frustrating to me. How does he feel when he works really hard on the dishes and someone goes in the kitchen and uses a bunch of dishes...worse when someone doesn't even bother to rinse a plate so he has to come back later and really, really scrub it to get it clean.
Well, this didn't do much to change his actions. I seen the awful state of his drawers a few days later. Okay, now I'm angry. However, it's not going to help me or Bobby if I storm over to him and begin yelling. It's not going to help either one of us if I am scathing. For me, I'm done folding his laundry for him. Now, I put it in a pile on the bed and he has to put it away. Last night, I told him where his laundry was, and told him to put it away. I don't need to tell him why. He knows. I'm not taking it personally and I'm not breaking the peace of the entire house by fighting with him. I told him what I expect and why. Now, he is suffering the first consequence of his action. Now, I let it go. I don't lose sleep over it. I don't vent about it. I don't do or say or think about it. I don't keep bringing it up. I don't half-joke about it. I move on with life.
What does this accomplish? Most likely he is going to have wrinkled clothing. I'd imagine this might bother him if a girl walks into his life that he really wants to impress. Either of these isn't going to affect me. These are the second consequences of his action. His peace may be broken, but I have maintained the peace of the house.
"What if he goes through life with wrinkled clothes?" Well, then he just does. Maybe his future wife will be more than happy refolding his laundry and straightening his drawers. In the more immediate future, if we have to go somewhere requiring non-wrinkled garments, then he will have to either stay home or I will teach him to use an iron; both of which are reinforcing natural consequences. It may be four months before his actions bring about natural consequences, but I think they will be brought about and in the mean time I don't have to stress over it, nor is the peace of our home broken.
Let's look at another couple of quick examples.
If your child does the dishes and constantly does a bad job, first tell them why getting food off of plates is so important and make them rewash the dirty ones. If the lesson still isn't learned, perhaps when you set the table put the plate and fork he failed to get clean at his place.
If your kid wants to get a job, don't hinder that. Remember to be a parent. You are not your child's boss. If he applies for a job that is paying less than you think he should, let him know in a respectful way. Just as adult men have egos, children do also...especially when it comes to when they want to take steps towards becoming an adult. All you can do is tell them, then let them make their own mistakes. You are not helping his future wife by giving him a complex or by dictating what is or isn't a job worthy of his efforts over and over again.
I am not helping my future daughter-in-law by hindering my son to seek out his own consequences. It really sucks sometimes to watch him fail, especially when I've taught him better and even from my own experiences. It hurts when he doesn't truly listen when I say, "Now, Bobby, don't apply for jobs that pay less than minimum wage," and 2 days later he wants to apply for a job that pays $40 a day for 8 hours work. If he listened and used some critical thinking skills he would've broke $40/day into how much that is per hour. Well, live and learn. I say, let him work the job and pay some natural consequences. As with your husband, don't tell him "I told you so" when he comes home dirty and tired with only $40 minus gas money to show for all his hard work. Sometimes natural consequences can do far more than talking til you're blue in the face."
The above triangle shows three things that use natural consequences to teach. For example, if your child doesn't clean his room, take away the privilege of having a computer in his room. Or perhaps he needs to spend the time cleaning his room during Family Game Night. Try not to be too harsh. Don't withhold opportunities or once-in-a-lifetime chances. Don't say, "You have to clean up your room while the rest of the family goes to Sea World."
If your child breaks one of your plates, he needs to work and get the money to replace that plate. Just as you would have to make amends to your neighbor if you broke their window, he needs to do all he can to make amends. Don't make him buy an entire new set of dishes. If you purchased your dishes from Walmart, he can probably buy just one dish to re-complete your set.
If your child can't seem to get along with the family, they need to take a break from the family. Teach them to go and take a walk outside or take a shower when they feel frustrated with someone. Lead by example. If you are angry, give yourself a break from others.
Remember to have grace and mercy and keep in mind the goal of maintaining a peaceful household. Keep control of your emotions, and let natural consequences dictate "punishment". One of the biggest things to overcome is our flaw of wanting to lash out in frustration, or worse say cutting remarks or using a scathing tone. You are training a future spouse, whether you know it or not. What type of husband or wife your children will become, depends largely on you. They watch you, and will emulate you. You will either train them to be a good spouse or a bad one.