What kid doesn’t love spinning? All our boys could twirl and twirl until their brains are a spinning, swimming mess and then, of course, the follow-up activity is running in any direction as fast as you can. The strange thing is that I don’t love spinning like I used to. There’s something about being 35 that makes spinning and nausea somewhat co-existent. The first time I really noticed this was at a fair a couple years ago with my oldest son, Malachi. We love going on rides together – it’s one of those special father-son things we do, but I made a mistake and went on a very fast spinning ride and was downright green for the rest of the evening.
Now here’s a curious thing; while I used to be really great on spinning rides when I was young, I used to be really awful at balancing my responsibilities as a dad, and these days I’m awful on spinning rides, but… I’m getting better at living a balanced life. This is a good thing too, because I have a heck of a lot more to balance these days than I ever have before. Of course growing in a skill doesn’t mean I don’t have to evaluate with the Lord how I’m doing in different areas.
For example there is a constant tension between how much structure and how much just plain old love a kid needs. I understand the need for both, but what is tricky to figure out is just how much of each is needed. I recently heard a child development expert say that we need to think of structure and nurture as different feet on the same person – so if you move ahead and provide structure for a child the next step is to provide nurture for them.
What this means in practical terms is that when a child is misbehaving and needs to have some firm boundaries enforced, such as a bedtime or not leaving the table until the ever-nasty sprouts have been eaten, then the next step is to provide cuddles, warm smiles, loving touches and precious words. It’s not that you are just trying to be a mushy parent, or buy back their love, but that you are actually providing vital balance to the mind of your child.
On the other hand, if you have been cuddling all day neglecting yard work and sneaking ice cream to your kids on the sly (guilty as charged) then it might be time to tighten up the rains just a bit and remind the kids that we need to have some rules in place as well or our teeth will rot out and things just won’t get done.
God does this with us, doesn’t He? Think about the times when your devotions have been almost terrifying because the conviction was so strong. It was time to shore up some weaknesses, address some sinful behavior and it wasn’t easy sitting under the heavy gaze of our Holy Father. It was time for some structure. But then, there are times when we are overwhelmed with His parenting touch. When the chills run up our spine and our minds are filled with wonder and awe in worship. When He speaks a prophetic word through a friend at a time when we needed it so desperately. When our devotion “time” is more like devotion “hours and days” because we just walk with Him.
Both experiences are filled to the brim with love and God, the consummate acrobat, always knows how to balance them out.
One step after another, our feet are meant to follow each other. Our homes are no less the tight-rope! Nurture follows structure, then structure is followed by nurture. It’s a balancing act and it’s an important one because just like we learn the balancing act from God, our kids will learn these important skills from us!
Do you lean more to the side of structure with your kids or nurture? Are you unbalanced? Ask the Lord, He’ll show you!