We interrupt your regularly scheduled fiction to bring you this non-fiction post because well, blogging every day is hard. And this is what’s on my mind. And it starts with C.
“Control your young.”
That line from the stuffy museum curator in the movie Night at the Museum makes me laugh every time. It’s a very real expectation in our society, though, and it’s no laughing matter if you’re a parent. Why? Well, because the truth is that we cannot control another human being. Even our kids. Especially our kids.
Are there times we have to pull rank on them just to get things done? Of course. But if that’s our primary way of operating, it’s going to backfire on us in the long run.
What to do? Probably the most important thing is to work at connecting with them. Foster our relationship. What’s that line? Rules without relationship produce rebellion. That may not be exact. But it’s true.
The value of spending time with our kids, slowing down and understanding them is very underestimated in our busy culture. All human beings want to be heard and understood. And isn’t being a parent ultimately about relationship anyway? Isn’t that what it is at its core? Plus, when kids feel connected, they tend to be more cooperative.
Another option is to just let them reap the consequences of what they’ve done. Admittedly, this isn’t always possible. But when it is, it’s a useful tool. For example, when your son doesn’t pick up his clothes off of the floor (and this *never* happens at our house), he doesn’t have clean clothes to wear if they don’t get into the wash. When your toddler throws a book at the dog (again, this *never* happens in our house), the book is removed until he can play with the book (and the dog) safely. Instead of rescuing them from consequences, sometimes it’s the best way to teach them how life works.
So many things are beyond our control. Situations. Our children. Their reactions to us. But we forget that the one thing we always *can* control is ourselves. Our reactions. We can choose how to respond when the kid knocks the milk over. We can get mad because we told him 3 times to watch out. Or we can calmly grab a cleaning rag and tell him he gets to clean it up. Even when they are pushing our buttons (again, this *never* happens here because I live in LaLa Land), it’s our choice how to respond. This one has got to be the hardest of all. Parenting will test the limits of your patience like nothing else. I know that the Marines think they have the toughest job they’ll ever love. But I disagree. I think parenting is the toughest job ever. And sometimes we don’t love it. But if we allow ourselves be taught and use the tough situations to grow, it can all be worth it.
But, man, it’s still hard.