I was at lunch today with some of Lisa’s girlfriends. They check in on me periodically to make sure I’m not totally screwing up. And lord knows, I need the help!
We started talking about kids and how easy it is to get frustrated with them. It seems like they’re always mucking something up: forgetting their homework, making a mess, being unappreciate, talking back when we ask them to do something. Un, I do not like that one.
It also seems like we’re always on their butts. That has to get old – for the parents who used to be enamored with your every move, to now harp on you incessantly, pointing out everything you’re not doing right.
Clearly, some of the corrections are necessary. Without them, kids end up running a muck and that makes for disaster. I’ve written about families where the kids are in charge – and it ain’t pretty.
But I wonder, as a parent, if I do enough to encourage my daughters, letting them know that I do notice the good, that I am proud of them – that my love is unconditional.
At night, I sometimes share with them all of the things I think are great about them. Since it is something we do at least once a month, Stephanie will sometimes prompt me, “Dad, tell me again 15 things you like about me.”
“That is so easy baby!” I then proceed to quickly spout off what makes her so dag-gone special to me.
Every day I remind them, verbally, that I love them. I work to compliment them when I think they look especially pretty (although in my eyes, they always look especially pretty), reminding them that if no one else thinks they’re beautiful, one guy does.
DJ is 16 and doesn’t particularly love a bunch of mushy stuff. But I tell her too. And I’ll still be telling her when she’s 50, and I’m 82.
Her room looks like an atom bomb went off in it. Drives me nuts. I shut the door. Leave her shoes in the den? I’ll complain. But I’m not going to nag about the little stuff. I had the upstairs doors replaced last year and so looking at the back side of hers is quite pleasant. She’s making good grades, she’s pretty respectful, she has learned to communicate her whereabouts well – those are the things I’m most concerned about.
If they cross the line on important issues, there will be repercussions. But I’m working hard not to sweat the small stuff.
I don’t want them to remember their time with me as combative. I want them to remember that I love them. I want them to remember the things I think they’re really good at.
Every night I go into their rooms individually, and we pray. And each night I ask God to help them make good decisions. I’m half way talking to God and half way talking to them. If you’ve heard that prayer 3,695 times as a kid, perhaps when some significant decision comes your way, you’ll think before you do something really stupid.
It’s all about balance – love and acceptance on one side and boundaries on the other.
I hope I can manuever that precarious position cause it’s really hard to do.