I realize it’s been a while since my last post. Let’s just say it’s a super busy time in the preschool office. I’ve decided to recycle a newsletter article I wrote in March 2007. I hope you benefit from my “using it again.”
I recently watched a mother drop her four-year-old son off to school. He was crying and she was visibly affected. The mother explained to his teacher that he was upset because he had forgotten his backpack. She went on to explain that she didn’t have time to go home to get it for him due to an appointment, but that she was also trying to help him learn responsibility for his own items. Later that morning I heard this boy and his teacher talking about the fact this it is good to remember to bring a backpack and that it is his responsibility, but, we all forget things at times and this was a chance for him to learn and grow.
I talked to this mom at dismissal and reassured her that her son had only a few moments of sadness before beginning a great day at school. She was still struggling with her decision. I actually applauded her for making the tough call. It would have been so much easier to get the backpack BUT what would this young boy have learned in that decision?
One of my favorite poems about parenting, written by Erma Bombeck, is titled, “I Loved You Enough.” You can find it here. This poem talks about some of the hard aspects of parenting; the ones that are not popular with your child. The poem ends with “But most of all, I loved you enough to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it. Those were the most difficult battles of all. I’m glad I won them, because in the end you won, too.”
I also had a conversation recently with a friend of mine who had grounded his son from the car for a week. He said, “I don’t know why I did that. It was so hard on me to have to pick him up all week.” It made me think again about how often the most effective and positively shaping consequences for children, the ones they learn the most from, are not the most convenient for the parents.
It is a lot easier to give in to a strong-willed child, especially over the small stuff, than to hold your ground and then deal with a long tantrum. It is a lot easier to ignore inappropriate behaviors while you are shopping than to park the shopping cart, take the child home for some cool down time, and then return to your shopping at a later time. It is a lot easier to . . .
As I write this I hope I don’t sound harsh. Every aspect of parenting should be wrapped in love and compassion! I also certainly understand that each situation is different. the child’s age, maturity level, previous behavior, emotional temperament, etc. all play into every parenting decision. THAT’S why it is so hard! Every parent I have even known wants to do the best for his or her child. I know you do too. I applaud each of you for your efforts. We have a wonderful group of children at Aldersgate. I write this to encourage those of you who are in the midst of those tough decisions. Keep it up! Often the toughest, most gut-wrenching decisions as a parent are the ones that will most positively shape your child. In Proverbs 221:6 we read “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” My blessings to every parent who is in the midst of the often challenging task of “training.”
Way to go Aldersgate Parents!