And of course, he still goes into work becausethat’s what doctors do. So I feel sorry for him…and continue to pick up the slack. Because that’s what I do.
Since life doesn’t slow down for jet lag or undisciplined children or messy houses or stomach bugs, we spent the weekend between dance performances and birthday parties and soccer games. This little guy gave us a great reason to celebrate:
Remember those days?
(I don’t. I think I’ve blocked out most of it.)
In the genetic line that my brother and I – and our kids – share, parenting is particularly difficult. The deep-seeded characteristics within our genetic wiring can be somewhat challenging to overcome. On both ends. The parent and the parented.
(God bless Alana. And Michael. When they got married, they had no idea just how screwed up this family really is.)
So stubborn, hot-tempered two year olds, nine year olds, 33 year olds and 37 year olds are no surprise. But by the grace of God and a very, veerrrrry patient husband, I’ve learned a few things about how to curb those nasty ol’ sins of the fathers and give our kids a brand spankin’ new heritage.
In no particular order:
1. Model respect. If you yell at your kids, they’re gonna learn to yell back. Speak respectfully and calmly to them and…well, they’ll still occasionally yell and smart off, but they’ll know that yelling at anyone is unacceptable. If you are constantly critical of your kids, they’ll be critical of others – especially their siblings. If you demand your kids do something without asking politely, they’re not going use their manners when they ask you for something. If you come into the family room and change the channel just because you paid for the TV and the mortgage, and if you yell at the idiots on the TV news even though they can’t hear you, and if you curse at the idiots driving too slowly in the left lane, your kids will grow up to resent you and your judgmental attitude and turn into Democrats.
(That last one was at no extra charge.)
(Can you tell that I could use a little bit of therapy?)
The point is this: we can’t just tell our kids to respect others and treat them as they want to be treated. We have to model it, starting with our relationships with them and extending to how we treat every other person who comes across our paths. Including the idiots driving too slowly in the left hand lane.
2. Consistency and integrity. Say what you do and do what you say. Follow through with threatened consequences. Every time.
3. The family is a team. We’re all on the same team, and we have to work together, support each other, and cheer each other on. “In order for this family to work, we all have to work together.” We’ve been telling our kids that since they were toddlers. (We learned this concept from this book.)
4. Apologize to your kids when you mess up and ask for their forgiveness. What?!? This was a totally foreign concept to me until several years ago when I met an amazing mom of five. I was astounded. Are we not the parents? Are we not the authority figures? Do we not have final say? Yes, yes, and yes. But we are fallible, and we screw up, and our kids need to know that. They need to know that we all make mistakes, and that it’s okay to make mistakes, but we when do, we need to apologize. And guess what? After you apologize for your behavior, the chances are good that they will turn around and apologize to you for whatever it was that caused you to lose it in the first place.
This alone – I think – has awarded me huge amounts of trust and respect from my kids, especially Meghan. She appreciates my transparency with her and my authenticity, and she is quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. And because she has my respect, she isn’t afraid to share her thoughts with me because she knows she will receive validation.
I still mess up. A lot. But I’m trying to learn from my mistakes and make them right. That’s what I attempted to communicate with my precious sister-in-law as she expressed the challenges of parenting a two year old and knowing the familial screwed-uppedness that she has married into. Thank God that He specializes in new beginnings and turning something messed up into something beautiful.
We could all use a little of that.