There is a saying in military and law enforcement circles – trust your training. We practice over and over again how to respond in difficult circumstances so that we will take the proper actions when placed under stress. The same is true in parenting. There comes a time when you have to trust that the training you gave your children will help them when they encounter the trials we know are coming.

The police and the military undergo extensive training about how to handle difficult choices. Through years of repetition, they train by going to firing ranges, practicing how to enter rooms with unknown assailants, responding to lone shooters, or administering first aid. The reason for all this repetition is that it helps us to respond to situations without having to think about every little action, because someday we won’t have time to think as danger comes before we realize it. In these circumstances, muscle memory takes over. The idea that we only need to be told something once is a myth. It is only after repeated practice sessions and encounters that we learn how we need to respond. It is only by going to the range repeatedly that Soldiers can take the right stand, breath properly, and fire accurately when someone is firing at them. It is only by repeatedly practicing what to do when faced with a lone shooter that you can take the right actions in the face of fear. It is only when you know how to bind a wound that you can do so with someone bleeding all over you. When faced with an emergency, you have to trust your training.

The same is also true of parenting. You train them for first-time obedience. You repeatedly practice your child doing exactly what you say when you say it, so that, when they are about to run into traffic, they will obey you. If you’re always letting your children disobey without any intervention or consequence, there will come a time that they disobey when their life depends on your guidance. You train them to control their tempers and answer questions without being disrespectful. You repeatedly discipline them for lashing out or throwing things and make them stand respectfully when speaking. If you don’t, they may one day become angry at their teachers or at the police and end up in worse trouble than they were. They may lose all of their friends and learn the hard way that they can and should control their temper. You teach them not to talk to strangers and repeatedly drill into them to go to the police when they are in trouble. If you don’t, they may go off with a serial killer or get lost and not know who they can or cannot trust.

Even the most mundane training, such as how to treat people kindly and to be honest, helps prepare them for life, especially when they get older and begin to make life choices. At some point, they will leave home, and the only thing that they can rely on is the training they’ve received. You drill into them the evils of drugs because you hope that, when tempted to take drugs with their friends, they will trust their training and say no. You show them what it’s like to be a true friend so that, in the heat of anger, they can remain calm and help others. You make them do chores so that, when they are on their own, they can take care of themselves even when other temptations come to bear. You teach them to be careful in relationships so that they avoid pregnancy. Since my children have gone to college, I look back at the training they received and know that it has helped them make the right decision when the easier path tempts them. I can see them interacting with others respectfully, applying discipline in studying, shopping and cooking for themselves, and avoiding danger, and I know that they turned out the way they did because of the training they received, at home, at church, and at school.

For parents who sometimes let their children get away with things, keep in mind that your children will only know what to do if you train them consistently. For children, know that the constant nagging helps to train you to respond appropriately without thinking. For parents of adult children, trust that your training will bear fruit one day. At some point, you have to trust your training.

© 2022 J.D. Manders