Life is full of rules and sometimes we grown-ups get so hung up on controlling our kids that we over-rule their little personalities…and forget they need to be KIDS!
When I was young and living at home with my parents, we ate lots of spaghetti…not the short stuff either. My mom always got the long packages – and each one of us would dish up a plateful. I wish my dad was alive to ask if he ever slurped his spaghetti when he was a little boy…or whether he was making up for lost time as an adult who could do whatever he wanted to do.
Dad taught me to slurp my spaghetti. The trick is starting with the very tip end of a piece of spaghetti and placing it gingerly between your lips and then methodically beginning a slow sucking that draws the spaghetti into your mouth at a snail’s pace. The more sauce on the spaghetti, the bigger the mess that collects on your upper lip and chin as it’s pushed aside by the moving noodle. Once you have mastered sucking one piece, you can move up to multiples…what a fun way to enjoy a meal!
Doesn’t this make you want to head into the kitchen right now and put a pot of water on the stove? Can you imagine what a whole table FULL of kids racing one another, showing off their spaghetti sucking skills? This is what memories are made of! I can’t say I’d ever let my kids eat spaghetti like this at Macaroni Grill, but in the sanctity of your own home, toss out the rules about manners for an evening and try it! My kids loved spaghetti nights and I can still remember their laughter as we sat around the table together, slurping spaghetti and enjoying one another.
For all the times you really have to be tough on the kids, make up for it by lightening up in unexpected ways when you can. As you do, help them learn to distinguish between which “rules” are guidelines for etiquette and social acceptance – the kind you can selectively break now and again, and which rules start with a capital R and must NEVER be broken. Reading through the Proverbs with your children is a great way to help them learn Biblical principles which, in my book, have many of the Rules you should never break.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give each of my children the desire and self-control to follow Your rules and live by Your principles. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.