(This post was written by Michael Wallace, High School Pastor)
You know the magic word, don’t you? The one word that will get you whatever you want? The one word that your parents made you say before you could get dessert? The same word that we all work to instill into our children’s vocabulary and applaud them for coming up with on their own? Do you know the magic word? When I was growing up it seemed like my parents’ biggest goal was to train my brother and me to say the word “please” in every sentence. Now that I have two kids of my own, I see myself falling into this same pattern. So, I asked myself, why? What am I really trying to teach Colt by holding out on his requests until he says “please”? Manners, I tell myself. My goal is to raise a child who uses manners when he communicates with other people. Maybe. But the more I think about it, the more I hope it goes deeper than that. If I only teach Colt to say the word please, and not to consider others more than himself, I am missing the point. If I train him to remember and use the “magic word” then am I preparing him to accurately interact with others, or be continually confused when “please” doesn’t get him out of a parking ticket or a bump up to first class on a plane ride? If I convince him that he can have what he wants based on his ability to say please, am I setting him up for success or helping him create a world where he is king and everyone else exists to do his bidding? These are the thoughts that roll through my head as I parent. And as they continue to roll, I find myself challenged to underscore the purpose behind my parenting to my kids. My goal is to raise adults from children, and as such I should help them learn that the “magic word” isn’t please, it’s patience. Or humility. Or maybe even sacrifice.