Control Versus Self-Control


I’m really struck by the expectations put on parents today.

A short list of some parental responsibilities:

  • All the basics, like food, and clothing, oh– and a great place to live
  • Unending emotional support
  • Unlimited defense, we’re expected to be like our kids personal attorney + agent
  • Picking the right school, pre-school through graduate school
  • Getting them the right teachers and right academic support
  • Making sure their school work is done, their projects are worthy of a perfect grade
  • Making sure their homework is done on time
  • Getting them to school on time
  • Personally delivering them wherever they need to be
  • Managing their schedule
  • Managing communication with all programs, schools, hobbies, religious activities, social activities
  • Making sure our kids have the right friends
  • Developing our kids social life
  • Making sure they have a hobby
  • Eliminating boredom
  • 24/7/365 safety, we are our kids Secret Service agents
  • 24/7/365 access to the internet, we are our kids IT department
  • 24/7/365 access to clean stuff, we are our kids personal maid
  • Personal chef, make food to their liking
  • Unlimited access to music, movies, television choices
  • A perfect childhood full of warm memories
  • Provide judgement free space for your child to explore personal interests, hobbies, potential vocations, unending ugly boyfriends, musical taste, clothing styles, etc.
  • Memorable family vacations
  • Providing regular educational opportunities
  • All the latest gear, electronics, play equipment
  • Fulfilling dreams
  • A shoulder to cry on when a dream is left unfulfilled
  • Possess a title or career they can brag about
  • Being there for them, upon request
  • Paying for whatever is asked… things with friends, school stuff, church stuff, etc.
  • Don’t forget investing in their spiritual well-being, it’s important that we make sure they are growing in their relationship with Jesus
  • Saving for college, that’s to say any college their 17 year-old self determines is best for their undetermined career goals
  • Unless they want a year off, we’ve got to pay for that gap year, too
  • Sin abatement, if they screw up… we need to provide a way to fix it
  • [Other responsibilities as assigned by a mommy blogger of a 3 year-old or a wanna-be mommy blogger doling out unqualified advice and guilt in exchange for being “blog famous.”]

Step Back

Have you ever taken a step back to think… WHAT THE HECK IS THIS EVEN ABOUT????

Sometimes I’m talking about my life as a parent or talking with a friend about parenting their kids and it hits me: Most of what we’re doing isn’t actually our responsibility. We’ve taken on that responsibility. We’ve decided all of that stuff above is on us.

And ultimately, it’s about control.

We want control.

We remove their control for our own and then blame them for driving us crazy because we think we can help them do things better than they could possibly do for themselves.

We try to navigate our children’s life for them.

Refocus on the Goal

Instead of controlling your child’s life, where we are ultimately lying to them that we can control everything…

Don’t teach control with your actions. Teach self-control.

Remember little old self-control? It’s a darned good character quality. It’ll serve your child better than the right school or the right stuff or that unnecessary trip to the children’s museum.

And if you’re controlling everything, taking responsibility for everything, and making everything easy?

They’ll never learn it for themselves. They’ll learn that to love someone means to take control of their everything. And that’s icky. 

Stop teaching control and start teaching self-control. 






2 responses to “Control Versus Self-Control”

  1. Tyler Avatar

    This is great, but the question then comes – HOW do we teach them self-control?

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Not to be rhetorical… but how did you learn self-control?

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