Tonight I made a parenting decision that I’m not sure would score high on the “How To Do Parenting” scale (where can I find that by the way?). Yet, I am glad of the decision.
I forced my thirteen-year old daughter and fourteen-year old son to watch the movie Little Women.
Yup, forced. Laid down the law. Made butts sit on couch next to mine.
This typically isn’t my parenting style, but I had just reached my limit of You Tube “Tutorials” and “Epic Fails.”
It is actually a compromise on my part as I see it, since I have been completely unsuccessful at convincing my children that reading classics is well worth their time.
So a movie it was.
There was dissension and moaning, which my realistic mind realizes is normal for this age group when asked to do something mature and good for the intellect. That they would desire to be well versed in the romantic story line of Meg and her courting of Laurie’s tutor or to be excited to understand the historical significance of children trading “limes” at school and the family’s struggle to make ends meet during war times is just too much to expect…but I still do!
Virtue over wealth! Pushing against confining gender roles—oh the themes!
And then I am disappointed when my two teens keep calling to the dog in a high pitched squeal over Jo’s soliloquy of her newly written manuscript.
But wait, during the final minutes of Beth’s life a question is asked by my daughter with hushed silence in the room,”Why didn’t the other sisters who got Scarlet Fever as young children die of it then?”
And somehow I feel like I have won, this little tiny victory. My children will be able to speak of with some knowledge when met with future commentary or reference about Scarlet Fever and Mary Louise Alcott’s classic. Possibly with a little scarring. But they will remember it.
And all the other battles I fight or choose not to this week will be okay because of this small champion. History, family, modesty, poverty, love, pain, perseverance, joy—all in a story. It’s worth it.
Often in parenting we feel like we are fighting our children, when really we are fighting FOR what is good for them. It feels like a battle we choose against them because their natural tendency in the teen years is to push back. We must remember that the battle is not about us winning and them losing, but about the things that are good and virtuous and right winning over in their lives.
And for you, what will you put your stake in the ground this week as your parenting non-negotiable? That is the battle you must choose.
Roll the credits.