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Treat Them Like Babies

August 20, 2012

I watched the movie The Decedents last night. There are several themes in the movie, but the thing that kept pulling on my heart was the relationship between the dad (George Clooney) and his daughters. Their relationship is so deteriorated that at one point he asks his 17-year old daughter’s young friend what he’d do to reach the girls. It’s not even the crux of the movie, but I found myself yelling at the screen, “Let them be babies!” (Watching a movie with me is never a dull experience.)

Few things make me passionate like the treatment of children, so for one moment, allow me to step up on my soap box…
They are babies.
I don’t care how old they are, they need you to hold them and hug them and tell them they are safe. They want you to protect them so they don’t feel alone. Children are a gift. They are entrusted to your care for a brief moment. They do not exist to comfort you, provide you friendship or partner with you. Even as they mature. Even when they rebel. Even when they make seemingly adult decisions. They are babies. They need you to care for them not the other way around. They need you to teach them and give them boundaries.
When you come to a place of doubt in this messed up, crazy hard thing called parenting, remember one thing: they are babies.
That doesn’t mean “baby” them. They don’t need your condescending demands. But treat them with care. Set boundaries and kept them. Make rules and enforce them. When they don’t know, teach them!
The same care you gave them at 2 months is the same care they need at 2, 12 and 22. They are babies.
I headed for bed after the movie ended with these thoughts in mind. As I plugged my phone in, I saw a tweet with this photo. Taylor had run across a picture from her graduation and shared it. I call Taylor my daughter-in-love. I did not birth her, but she grows under my heart just as Brynna did. She’s a college graduate and proud new homeowner. She’s getting a master’s degree and has a job. But when she’s lonely or nervous, those things don’t matter. From her “mom,” she just wants to be a kid. She wants someone to tell her she’s safe and loved.
no matter the age…they are my babies
Regardless of how old he is, what she’s done or said. Hug her. Hold him. Pray for her like you did when she was a baby. Because from her mom, she’ll always need to be.

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