Monday, August 24, 2015

Multiple Choice Parenting

We were having a summer, and all of the sudden it was the first day of school. 

At least it seemed that way because I didn’t really create any preparatory ramp-up to get ready for school.

None of us are into school-shopping, so I rummaged through drawers and made sure they had at least five t-shirts without rips or armpit stains. We bought school shoes in July so it didn’t feel like “school shopping.”

The boys are pretty much over shopping for school supplies too. So I had them sort through last year’s supplies, and then went alone to buy the remaining items on the supply list.

We didn’t even start going to bed early as we have in the past. Instead we squeezed in as much summer as possible.

And then, WHAM! The first day of school.

Two out of three students are
are unenthused about a 7:30 photo shoot.

They couldn’t believe it was actually time—already!-- for reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.  

So I added to my growing list of Parenting Decisions to Second Guess: Perhaps I should have given them a bit more notice to prepare them for the start of school.

And all my second guessing brings me back to my own school days.  
Remember the ACT test? I had a severe case of test-taking anxiety in high school. I second guessed every answer I chose, which made it hard to finish within the allotted time. But there was a little nugget of a rumor which was my multiple-choice-test-taking salvation.
Choose “C.” 
If you don’t know the answer, choose C. 
If you get the five minute warning and still have questions to finish, choose C…all the way down your bubble sheet. C. C. C. C. C.
The theory was it wouldn’t really affect your score. And apparently it didn’t since I received the exact same score three times.
Sometimes I still default to this theory, and I feel like I’m parenting by multiple choice. I look at the multiple choices and I wonder:
Should I… 

1.    Indulge their desire for brand name clothing and equipment for the sake of helping them feel comfortable in the awkwardness of middle school? OR prove to them that neither the clothing nor the equipment make a good person or a good athlete. Uhhh…I don’t know. I choose C.

2.    Allow practice schedules to fill our evenings and risk communicating “SPORTS ARE LIFE” OR cultivate life lessons about practice, team work, and time management. I don’t know….C.

3.    Sign up for one sport per season or two? ...C.

4.    Squeeze in a music lesson too? Piano or guitar? …C.

5.    Algebra or pre-algebra. Ummm… C.

6.    Read a morning devotional in the car, or right before bed? Or both?  C.
I don’t know the right answers. Minutes tick by, and there's no time for second guessing.
I pay attention to the questions, I evaluate each answer, but I’m always a little bewildered.
Sometimes C is the right answer, but probably only 25% of the time.
But just like when I took the ACT, I’m banking on the fact I’ve already answered some questions correctly.
We’ve fed, clothed, sheltered, and loved them. Maybe it wasn’t organic, name brand, new or perfect, but we’ve done that much, and that is the right answer.
We’ve told them the truth. Sometimes it's hard, and there are truths they aren’t ready to hear yet, but telling the truth is the right answer.
Whether we’ve “crammed it down their throats” or done “too little too late” will remain to be seen, but I know for sure we have pointed them toward Christ. And that is always the right answer.
So as I’m scribbling in all the C bubbles on the peripheral parenting questions, I’m thanking the Lord for the grace He’s given to answer a few questions correctly and counting on His lavish forgiveness for the ones I may get wrong.



  1. Awesome, as always, Shauna! You have a talent for describing the mundane details of life and showing us the humor, lessons, and beauty in them.

    1. Thanks for reading and for your encouragement, Kay. Always fun to hear from you :)