Amongst the dishes and laundry, the arguments, the kisses and hugs…I always have this question in the back of my mind: “Am I getting this parenting thing right?”
I truly thought that it would be easier.
As I reflect on my own life, there are two things in particular that have helped me to be more successful and more at peace. So is it ever too young to start teaching these to my kids?
Is it possible that I could teach them some lessons that I’ve only recently learned myself and that these could help make our days go a little smoother?
I guess it can’t hurt to try, so here are two things I hope to instill in my kids this year.
1) To be solution oriented
Each day we face countless problems. From running out of milk to missing a deadline to getting a flat tire…they come in all forms. But what all problems have in common is that dwelling on them is seldom productive.
The other morning I had all four kids loaded in the van and was scrambling to find my keys, worried that if we didn’t leave soon we’d be late.
In the past, my husband would have lectured me about hanging them on the hook as soon as I walk in the door. Then I would have defended myself by explaining how I was trying to carry in four Target bags and a crying baby, so of course I had to put the keys in my pocket. Precious time would have been wasted without me any closer to finding my keys.
But this time?
His simple question: “where was the last place you remember having them?” showed no criticism or contempt…it said to me “I’m on your team, let’s find these keys quick and get you on your way.”
What a difference focusing on the solution made! The stress of the moment dissipated and I was able to think logically about where my keys most likely were.
How we practice it with our kids:
There are countless opportunities to practice this with our kids throughout the day (the good thing is that they generally pick up on things quicker than we do as adults!).
3 Year Old: “Mommy! It’s MY turn to wear the Elsa dress!”
Me: “Ok, so the problem is A is wearing the dress and you would like to? So what can we do to solve this problem?”
3 Year Old: “Ask her when I can have a turn?”
Me: “Great solution! Why don’t you go ask her for a time between 1 and 5 minutes and I’ll set the timer.”
Oh I don’t always get it right, but we’re getting much better and there is definitely more peace in our house :)
2) To seek understanding
There are ALWAYS two sides to every story. Always. (Always.)
Something that has helped me to have more peace in my life, and to be less offended towards others, is to seek understanding.
Your boss makes a decision you don’t understand. Instead of assuming you know why, and that they are working against you or not respecting your input…find out. Perhaps they had a logical reason for what they did…give them the benefit of the doubt.
Ruminating with co-workers on your employer’s inability to make wise decisions before you know the truth only causes stress, strife and offense…who needs that? :)
But this isn’t always easy! My sister Diana has been very helpful with helping me to learn this. Now when someone makes a decision that we don’t understand or agree with she’ll say: “huh, I don’t understand why they would want to do it that way, but they must have a reason.”
That is the cue that we aren’t going to spend anymore time speculating until we have better understanding about why they did what they did.
How we practice it with our kids:
Just this morning our 5-year old said accusingly: “Mommy, you said you were going to get more cereal and you didn’t!”
My response: “There was probably a reason why mommy didn’t get more cereal, could you try that again?”
5 Year Old: “Mommy, I had asked you to get more cereal, and you said you would, could you help me understand why you didn’t?”
Me: “I’d be happy to, I thought I was going to have time to go to the store yesterday, but I didn’t, but I’m hoping to go today and cereal is on my list.”
So while I KNOW I’m still not getting it all right, I’ll go down trying!
And again, the good news? Kids pick up on this really quickly! And teaching them reinforces it in me, too :)