A few weeks ago my son and I had a particularly bad week. We could hardly talk to each other without arguing. I started thinking about his 2 big brothers. We had never related to each other like that....I couldn't figure out what the difference was. (Other than the fact that no 2 kids are alike and therefore your relationship with each one is going to be different.) Then I realized that I'd been putting myself on his level and acting like a 15 year old instead of The Parent. My pride would be injured when he talked to me sarcastically or disrespectfully and I'd "react", talking to him in angry or sarcastic tones myself. This is something I see happening between Alec and our 6 year old all the time. Good grief!
So, I dug around in my memory and tried to figure out how I'd related to his 2 big brothers. In the first place I always tried to maintain my status as The Parent instead of a sibling. Disrespect was just not tolerated. However, because Alec is way more stubborn than his brothers it's sometimes hard to know how to handle this.
Here is what I'm trying right now.
First of all, I'm putting myself in his shoes. I see so many of my weaknesses handed down to that boy. Stubborn. Strong willed. Wanting control.
I'm also trying to remember what it was like to be 15. There is NO amount of money, scrapbooking supplies, or chocolate that could get me to go back to that time in my life. You are at your most vulnerable, in my opinion. Not only are you hormones going crazy, but you're becoming an adult and letting go of childhood. Alec is trying to figure out who he is, why he is, where he's going, and who his heroes are going to be. I see him trying to be like some of the guys he works with and his big brothers. I'm so very thankful he has those examples-the guys he works with and his 2 brothers all love the Lord and want to serve Him. We're very careful about who he spends time with and hangs out with. We want him to look "up" not "across" at someone his age who is just as vulnerable and confused as he is.
I can clearly see him analyzing everything we've taught him about the Lord, the bible, his relationship with God, and even God's love for him. Is it true? Do I want to go that route? Am I willing to give up my control and trust that God? Our prayers for him have increased tremendously, needless to say!
Second, I'm focusing on our hearts. What I mean by that is this. When the dr., midwife, or taxi cab driver put your baby in your arms for the first time, there were thousands of tiny strings tied between your heart and his. Every time you talk to your child in an angry, sarcastic, or patronizing way, you cut one of those strings. My mom raised me on guilt trips and reverse psychology. This did not create a very strong sense of trust in our relationship! Harshness closes a child's spirit. If you persist in that, after years of relating like that, all the kid will want to do is get away from you.
On the other hand, every time you encourage your child and build him up, you're tying more strings together between your hearts.
Right now, today, I am setting the tone for a relationship with Alec that will last the rest of our lives. I need to remember that. I'm trying to talk to him like the young man he is....this week, instead of reacting, I've been asking, "Sweetie, you seem really uptight. What's going on? Would you like to talk?" And you know what? We've been talking. It seems like he's trusting me a little more and is willing to be a little bit more open with me about the things he's thinking about.
I'm trying to focus on his strengths-I need to see what his gifts are and then tell him I see those things in his life. I want to build up his relationship with the Lord and show him what his abilities and gifts are and ways the Lord might use those later in Alec's life. It seems like my major focus is on his faults. I'm like a harpy, "Change, for crying out loud! Mature! Quit acting like that. Don't talk to me like that...." On and on. I wonder how he would finish the sentence,"My mom thinks I'm....". (At this point I'm afraid to ask him!)
One other thing I'm trying to remember is that the bible says children are like arrows in a quiver. I once heard a study on that. There is so much detail work that goes into making an arrow. It takes hard work and time to make sure the arrow will fly straight and true. To get the point sharp. If the feathers on the back are crooked or twisted the arrow will miss it's mark.
We're only given 18 years or so to perfect the arrows the Lord has placed in our quiver. I don't have time to jump in and act like a half-made arrow myself.
(Some of these ideas were passed on to us at our local home school convention a few years ago. I went to a parenting workshop given by David and Shirley Quine of Cornerstone Curriculum. Those two parents have been blessed with soooooo much wisdom!)