This is the second in the Grandma’s Old Adages series, and it’s kind of a strange one, but it has always stuck with me. In fact, just a couple of days ago I found myself quoting it to my daughter.
Why Frenchmen? Why 50,000? I don’t know…maybe it’s the aliteration that makes it so sticky, but the wisdom behind this odd phrase is sound.
When there is a widespread consensus on an issue, take it seriously. It applies in a couple of ways. For one (and this is the one I recently shared with Skyler), if a person is having the same problem nearly every place she goes, chances are good SHE is the problem.
Jody and I often say that as parents, we need to realize that our children are NOT extensions of ourselves. They are their own people. When we recognize this, and we’re motivated by a deep love for them and a hope for their greater good, we can be objective about their behavior, and then (and only then) can we really help them.
So when our kid comes to us and says they having a problem in school and then later complains about a similar situation at church and then again about something happening in an extra curricular activity, followed by a similar issue she’s having with her circle of friends, we need to be brave parents and recognize that 50,000 Frenchmen can’t be wrong! The problem is in our kid.
Gently, and with a heaping spoonful of deep love, we need to help our kids see when they are the problem and give them tools to fix it. That’s our job. If we constantly side with our kids and defend them and make excuses for them, we are doing them a terrible diservice. For one, we are sure to create emotionally constipated blame shifters, who don’t know how to self-evaluate, take responsibility, own up to their mistakes, and correct their problems.
But when we come along side our kids and help them figure out why certain things keep happening and then help them take steps to fix the problems, we are giving them valuable life skills, and ultimately, we’re delivering healthier people into adulthood.
How many times have we heard parents say that no one likes their kid because everyone else is jealous? Jealousy is real, and occasionally someone might reject a kid out of pure envy, but if a parent finds themselves making this excuse often, they need to face the real problem or else that kid will grow up socially disabled.
“50,000 Frenchmen can’t be wrong” also works in the reverse. In addition to being a litmus test for a problem, it can be a precautionary tool. The Bible says it like this: “In a multitude of counselors, there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6)
Let’s teach our kids to seek wise counsel from a variety of good sources on a regular basis. If a kid wants a guitar for his birthday, teach him how to be a wise consumer and research it thoroughly to find the best deal in his price range. If a teen wants to go on a mission trip, have her talk to a number of different people who have been to there and glean their wisdom.
The key to this one is WISE counsel, but there is good reason to seek wisdom from more than one source.
Thanks again, Grandma Rita! This is a good one.