My mother was a wise woman with some great sayings, one of which was, “No one person is important enough to make everyone around them miserable.” Today, one of my kids thought he was that one person.

We had a lovely day today, the kind that make fond family memories: driving to a mountain resort town; bringing our own charcoal and hot dogs and having a cookout at a riverside park, complete with fresh garden tomatoes and Krispy Kreme doughnuts(!); taking a lazy 2 1/2 hour inner tube ride down the river; eating pizza at an outdoor, riverside cafe.

Waiting for the pizza to arrive is when things started getting a little uneasy. The troops were tired, restless, and hungry, especially Lily who became vocal. My teenage son started copping an attitude about the rest of the family, especially us, the parents. This dragged on until it developed into a full-scale, serious parent/child discussion outside the restaurant after supper; eventually we head for the car, frustrated and angry, our teenage son in the lead.

At this point the other kids realize we’re leaving and become upset, and it occurs to me: if we leave, we are allowing our son to be that “one person,” the one who thinks he’s important enough to make everyone around him miserable. In Proverbs 22:15 we are told that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” Allowing our son this level of influence – dampening our day by ending it prematurely and on a sour note – just seemed like foolish parenting (something my new friend Marybeth would have called parenting out of fear). We informed the kids we were staying, turned around (without teenage son who stayed and sat by the river), and spent about another hour and a half roaming through little shops, taking silly family photos, and eating funnel cake.

Did our son cool his head? I don’t know; he was asleep on the riverbank when we returned, and he went straight to bed when we got home. Moral of the story? Parenting isn’t always a popular job. We’re not supposed to be our child’s best friend or take his viewpoint when it’s wrong. If our position can be backed with scriptural authority (it could and was), it’s our duty to explain it thoroughly and then stick to it. Don’t allow your children to believe they’re that “one person.” I’m so glad we turned around and didn’t deny the other kids and ourselves the rest of the day we’d planned.

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