Kids break things.
No shocker there to the seasoned parent, but a truth that must be understood by everyone seeking the parenting title. If you honor your sanity and resting heart rate, then you must learn that the impending destruction of your valuables is nigh. Closer than you may think.
A few years ago, 2 of my cleverest hobbits decided to don their youngest brother’s pull-ups upon their noble heads and gallivant around upstairs. Well, as kids sometimes do, they just happened to end up in the bathroom of all places. I mean, where else would they find the water that would eventually pour downstairs through the ceiling.
“What did they do?” you may ask. Good question.
Did you know that a 5 or 6-year-old’s head, mixed with the velocity of a quick sprint and the protection of a pull-up, is enough to crack a toilet tank? Well, you do now.
What about drywall? Don’t get me started on drywall.
We decided it was a good idea to stick wall decals of their ages in the boy’s room to help accelerate their number recognition. That sounds like a good homeschooling technique, right?
The answer is yes!
Yes, it’s a very good learning technique. That is until 5 out of 7 of my children came to the conclusion that a rousing game of “Kick the Number 4” was in order to cure their collective boredom.
Random fact. The number 4 is unlucky in Japan. One of its pronunciations is the same as their word for Death? It’s pronounced, “shi”. That kinda sounds like “she”, as in, “she did it”. That’s what 4 of them (there’s that number again) said in unison, shaky fingers pointed towards the obvious culprit with white dust up to her calf.
Of course, this is just 2 of the hundreds of things I could use to prove the point. In their defense, they don’t seek out chaos. It’s just a byproduct of youthful vitality. I’d gladly wager that 90% of all incidents come from everyday play. True, some come about because 4-year-olds wonder what would happen if they throw their brother’s favorite stuffed panda bear in the fireplace. This is curiosity at its most dangerous, but curiosity nonetheless.
This all leads to the point of this post. Your kids will break things. It’s almost their job. Your job, however, is to make sure that you don’t break them… Physically or spiritually.
One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard goes like this:
“The greatest sign of maturity is how you deal with immaturity”
– No clue
I wish I could give credit to the originator of this statement. They deserve the Nobel peace prize that is my heartfelt thanks and appreciation. Unfortunately, who said it is a mystery that even Google has yet to answer for me. If you know it, then please comment below and I’ll happily give credit where credit is due.
One of the hardest things in the family structure is that we are all learning our jobs at the same time. Kids are learning how to be kids, and parents are learning how to be parents. Both come jam-packed full of emotions and personality, but one must care for the other while the other usually could care less for them. That’s a hard statement to hear, and even harder to understand if communicated poorly. Let me put it in another way.
As a parent, you will, or you should find yourself seeking to encourage the giftings and talents of your children. This is done through appreciation and praise. It starts with their first coo, their first laugh, their first word, their first step, and so on. Your encouragement strengthens and motivates their desire to grow into each phase of independence because your goal isn’t to keep them forever. You are raising them to let them go.
As a child, they most assuredly will overlook everything you’ve ever done for them. Not because they choose to, but because they just don’t know better. You being you is normal for the child. You are expected to give your all, which, to them, solely includes meeting their needs. We, as parents, are still trying to figure out our kid’s personalities, and are learning what to correct, what to encourage, and so on. They are not expected to give their all, nor do they come from a place where they gave anything at all. You, as the parent, fed them, changed them, bathed them, dressed them, and everything else under the sun. Then, slowly, you started making them do it themselves.
Next, you disciplined them if they didn’t do it, or if they did it incorrectly. Not necessarily because you want to correct them, but because you know that they need to not only know how to do it, but they need to care about it enough to do it. Most don’t.
THIS is where it starts:
- THIS is where the parents hardest balancing act takes place.
- THIS is where parents fight to maintain control without losing control.
- THIS is where parents seek to teach independence without fully letting the child think they run the show.
- THIS is where exploring kids break things.
- THIS is where most parents break their kids
Don’t Break Your Kids
It’s the place in time where we say the things we wish we could take back. It’s the historical moment they usually share with their friends or future counselor in describing why they are the way they are. It usually follows the expression, “my dad was a good person, but…”.
So now you’re thinking, “great, this is good to know, but what do I do about it?”
- Knowing is half the battle.
If you are aware, then you can take the time to prepare. The hard part on my end is the truth that you prepare the way you prepare. I really can’t tell you what to do. You have to figure out what works best for you when the situation to maintain your maturity arises. Some walk away. Some can’t. Some have time to spend working through an issue, some don’t.
I believe there is a “perfect path” that you have wished you would have taken when you feel like you failed as a parent. Thank about that path and play it out in your head. Make it the first thing you see when your children break the handmade anniversary gift you worked so hard to make for your wife. True story.
- Knowing it takes time is the other half.
We want to be the perfect parent and we want it NOW! Funny how immature that statement sounds, but it is at the root of immaturity. The ability to grow and learn and transform your life takes time, and it takes messing up. You will lose it, and you will feel like a complete failure. The truth is that you aren’t a failure if you mess up, but you’re a failure if you give up. Always see your failures as launching pads of correction within your own life. It’s amazing how your children will see this and emulate it. Monkey see monkey do.
- Always look for forgiveness
The recipe for justice is one ingredient. Forgiveness. Not because they deserve it, but because forgiving them for what they do helps us to discipline according to their intentions and not according to their actions. It’s not that we forgive to forget. That, for the most part, is an impossibility and doesn’t teach the value of trust. Your child may draw on your wall and be thinking, “this is a beautiful picture for mommy,” or “I don’t like mommy right now and I know this makes her mad.” Forgiveness gives us the time to find this out and take the proper measures to install healthy change. This also affords them multiple opportunities to regain our trust because they know we value their feelings and emotions.
Breaking your children all comes down to the loss of two very important things:
TRUST & VALUE
While I agree with Ben Shapiro in that, “facts don’t care about your feelings,” I also believe that we, as parents, should care about their feelings if we are going to begin to help guide them into proper emotional responses to their feelings. We should always do what we can to regain trust when we lose it, and to constantly affirm their value, even though there will be times where discipline and correction must be administered. I mean really, we discipline and correct not because we enjoy it, but because we value them.
As for the parent, asking forgiveness for improper parenting helps you not only establish communication again but is another way to show the child that you value them. If they don’t feel valued by you, they will seek to be valued elsewhere.
Ok, so it’s not Parenting 101, but it’s what I find works for me. I screw up quite often when it comes to losing my patience with my children. I can make it through the first 2 or 3 outbursts, but a continual barrage will set me off. Knowing my weaknesses, practicing my path, and always seeking their forgiveness when I mess up is why I believe my children still hug me goodnight and tell me how great of a dad I am. I say that with equal portions of humility and pride. While I may not believe that I deserve it, I also know that they aren’t saying this because they think I’m perfect. It’s not about perfection. It’s about caring. They know that I care, and they know that I love them. They know this because they know I value who they are and I take the time to say and show that fact on a daily basis. It’s a game changer.
Till next time…