This seems like such a simple thing doesn't it? Talking to your kids? Honestly though, is it?
I am going to spend the next couple of blogs sharing tips on how you can break down the walls that form between you and your kids. But first, let's set some ground rules. Let's start with you and your expectations. The fact is this...you are the adult. You need to be the bigger person. When you have a problem with your child, this should not sound like a squabble between siblings with a "he (or she) started it" mindset. If you find yourself sinking to that level, you need to stop and take a break before you continue any conversation with your child.
The main types of conversations you can have with your child are "chatting", "instruction", and "we have a problem". Chatting or instruction can easily turn into "we have a problem" so tread carefully!
Everything hinges on you and your attitude. Parenting is hard. Anybody who told you otherwise was lying. If you don't have teenagers, awesome! Now is the time to start working on these ideas so you are ready by the time you have them. If you do have teenagers, you need to understand, life is a process. It's daily. Keep working on it. So how do you do that?
Here are the ground rules...
1. Your child is not you. What?!? I know! It's a concept isn't it? I know people who will read this and think, "Oh, thank God!" I know other people who constantly expect their children to think like they do. They never seem to communicate clearly with their children because they are expecting their child to just "know" what they meant or do things like they would. It just doesn't work that way. God made each of us different, thankfully or the world would be quite boring!
2. Your child is not your spouse (or ex). Again, I know! Crazy concept! They may look like you. They may look like your spouse. They may even have character traits of one or both of you. But, your child is completely unique. Being angry with your child when they exhibit a trait that annoys you when it annoys you because your spouse or ex-spouse exhibits that trait isn't fair. You need to check yourself. It's almost better to find a way to get a sense of humor about it.
3. You are not your parents. Whoa! I see a pattern developing. You may think your parents did a great job raising you. You may think you had the worst parents on earth. Either way, you are not them. You are you. Somehow you are going to have to come to terms with raising the kids that God gave you with the personality God gave you. Weird, huh? You may find yourself saying things your parents said. Of course! They raised you and you learned from them how to be a parent. You are still not them. We will expand on this more in a future blog.
4. Your spouse is not your in-laws (or ex spouse is not your ex-inlaws). You may like your in-laws. You may think your in-laws are insane. You may like them sometimes in small amounts. Either way, your spouse is not them either. Wow! This is really something isn't it?
Why did I bother to lay all this out? I mean, you saw the punchline before I got there, right? Sometimes you know something in your mind, but you don't know it in your heart. Sometimes you know it, and then you blow your stack and you forget. Sometimes I talk to you when I am talking to myself. Sometimes I talk to myself when I am talking to you. Get it?
Anyway, the deal is this...how often do we start going after our kids with an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with them and everything to do with us? Your purpose on Earth is to instruct your child in the way they should go. Absolutely! Totally with you on that. But, as my friend Derek says, "Is this really a moral issue?" I mean, is it something that requires correction, or is it a personal problem with you? If you spend time frustrating your child over little things, you are going to build yourself a big wall. Then when it comes time for a BIG thing, you are not going to be able to talk over that wall. Don't worry, we'll delve more into this later too. But in the meantime, in my next blog we are going to take some time to get to know this great unique person that God blessed you with!