This is part two of a Two-part post. Click here for Part 1.
These posts were originally written and posted in 2008.
I am on a blogging vacation until August 1, 2012. Hope you’re having a great summer!
When my son was little (under 1 year) I was seriously into reading books on child training. Several of them said things like, “Do the hard work now to instill the right habits and your life will be easier when they are teenagers.”
It felt like wisdom to heed those words. So – with the horrible goal of making MY life easier I set out to nip everything in the bud.
I learned how to spank effectively [don't get me started on how big a mistake that was!] and to train the child to put his stuff away before moving on to a new project. I tried to institute mandatory devotions (I gave that up pretty early on, too).
You get the picture.
Well – fast forward 15 years. He a great person! I love him dearly and he’s a total hoot. But, he almost never puts anything away unless I remind him (which was NOT the case when he was 6 and 7) his room is a disaster (which was also not the case when he was 6 and 7) and he is just plain messy!
I was training that out of him!! The books said!!!!
Frankly, those books are selling a dream which is only realized when you have kids whose temperaments already fit the outcome.
Like gardening: If I plant a sun-loving plant in the sun, it’s kind of silly of me to credit myself when it blooms. OR, I can plant a sun-loving plant in the shade and try to force it to be a shade loving plant….but that plant will still need SUN. I can try to prune a rose to look like a boxwood hedge and it’s still going to be a rose with it’s tendency to be very branch-y and decidedly UNboxwood-like.
I guess the point here is to focus on figuring out who our children are and helping them learn to be responsible and caring individuals, but do it for THEM and not for your future ‘ease’.
I believed those kooky book authors when they said “What he is at 2 he’ll be at 12, if you’re not careful.” WRONG!! Give the kids some credit for having the sense to know that acting like a 2 yo is only effective for 2 year olds (and even then it doesn’t work well). Most teens (including my own) still have days when they’re immature and ignorant and rude and irritating. It’s part of the process.
[Update: Now that my kids are 14 and 20] Overall, they are respectful and willing to admit when they’re wrong and even fairly quick to come to me and apologize when they’ve been rude.
Should I view their flaws as failure on MY part? NOPE. Just as I should not view their strengths as having anything to do with what a great parent I am. It’s important to be big enough to step away and see the kids as individuals and not as trophies or badges of honor. They are people.They are each different and we need to do the work of knowing each of them individually and living with them accordingly and respectfully.