Such a beautiful perfect-family picture. Her seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were interested, earnest, and in good humor as they started.
The lesson was about turning to God for assistance in cleaning up our lives. Mom spoke to the kids about bad habits and how prayer can enlist the help of God and focus us on our efforts to break them.
“Think about something you’d like help with this morning. If you want to share it, fine. If you are not comfortable with sharing, that’s fine, too. We all have things in our lives we’d like to change and we need help to do it. I’ll start.”
Mom shared with her kids that she had gained a little weight and that she knew the reason was poor eating habits. “I need help from you and from God so I can remember to make good choices in my diet. I need to learn to eat healthy.”
Mom was stunned. She froze, her eyes locked on her son’s face. How could this be? Her polite, nearly-perfect little son with such a disgusting habit? It was all she could do to keep from jumping up and exclaiming something surely judgmental and emotionally-damaging as she retched. She fought to remain poker-faced, knowing that judgment was not the thing to display right now.
In the stillness of the moment, she collected herself. Her eyes slid to her firstborn, her dainty, quiet daughter whose eyes were fixed on her mother’s face. As if on cue that it was her turn once Mom’s eyes met hers, without prompting Girl started her own confession. “Me, too, Mom. I think I need to stop eating boogers.”
She considered options: Should she jerk their revolting little bodies up and wash their nasty booger-ridden mouths out with soap?
Should she give them extra housework to make sure they never forgot their struggle to crush this habit?
Should she tell their father what abhorrent, foul children they had raised?
Emotion and nausea flooded her.
Control regained, she bowed her head and simply said: “Lord, please help us to be healthy in our eating habits…”
The kids grew out of it, apparently. The story is now told by them all, They love the shock and disgust that goes across people’s faces.
And, in case you wonder, she is a great mother.
We can be good parents and teach our children all the right things to do. Still, our kids just veer from the paths we think we have set them on—all of them. This disgusting little story is just a reminder.
When I hear clients bemoaning their wayward adult children and saying, “Where did I go wrong?” I remind them that we cannot blame adult bad choices on parenting. To try to force them into seeing this, I ask: “Which parent failed Adam and Eve?”
It just happens – to the best parents. -C