How to Bring Honor to Annoying Differences in Your Children (Part 3 of 3)
Parenting is tough as we daily wade through waters to magnify the good and extinguish the unsavory matters concerning our children. It requires much thought energy, time and focus. While some children are “easy”, others demand our fullest attention if we and they are to survive the family experience with hearts and minds intact.
This is the last of a 3-part blog about specific personalities of some of my children. Although each proved to be challenging, they taught me better ways to manage. You would think that I would have it all figured out by now, being mother of 9. Not so. I’ll be the first to share that each one has been different – and some wildly. Still, the overarching message here is to study, understand and carve positive life with your children. How you “handle” them will be mimicked by all other members of your family. Recognizing acceptable differences in our children, while also taming those things that are unacceptable is critical to foster positive in our homes.
Welcome this last “tale” featuring one last annoying childhood personality:
Little Mr. Just Being Different
I remember a time when a I noticed one son was in the habit of physically taking himself in an opposite direction from his siblings who liked to get outside to play. It’s not that he didn’t like being outdoors, but it was that he seemed to have other diversions on his mind more than wanting to go do the rough and tumble type activities, as did all his brothers. That threw a proverbial monkey wrench in my mind as I sorted out what was going on.
There were days when I might be so busy being mama in the house of busy, until I would not readily notice what was happening with him. When I did, my first thought and words were to push him to get outside to play ball and make mud pies. He responded with hot negativity every single time. Still, if he did follow my order, he would get outdoors and purposefully cause confusion. Now it felt like half the neighborhood was on edge because of the disruption of my one. I had to step back and analyze what I had possibly created by not being more attentive.
Here was a child who preferred to work with his hands. He would build Lego creations and then animate them. He would draw pictures that would end up in crumpled piles in the garbage can because he was frustrated that a nose might look off-center (in my opinion, these would always be quite masterful). He would delight in busying himself in more artful right-brain activity rather than spending time in what he felt to be excessive outdoor play.
Being the parent, I saw the beauty of his gifts as well as the benefit of balance. It was up to me to honor who he was and what he brought to light with his talents. I had been wrong to not acknowledge his individuality, but there was definitely a need for me to help him balance the two worlds.
There were several methods I used to accomplish this. One was allowing him a specific amount of increased time of personal creativity and expression after he had spent what I deemed a reasonable time in outdoor physical diversion. If he cooperated, he might even be granted bonus time to “do his thing”. If he did not cooperate, he would lose the privilege to do as he pleased.
In addition to establishing this balance in him, I had to undo damage I caused by negating the gifts of who he was to his siblings. I did this by having him demonstrate his creations, by hanging up or prominently displaying his works of art, and speaking up his talent to his siblings. They in turn continue to learn how to accept his individuality; they are learning to honor their brother for his gifts and talents. To not do so would have forced him to live according to our specific definition of what his talents and proclivities should be – quite an unfair, selfish and dishonoring notion.
Lessons Learned – Your Take-Away
Here is a review to guide parents wanting to encourage right attitudes towards our children.
From Mr. Busy Eyes, remember to study your child who does things so differently. They might be demonstrating talents that look less appealing upon first glance; however, they carry life-preserving weight in other right circumstances. Mold and honor.
From Little Miss “No No”, remember to respect your child when they need correction. They must be addressed and given chance to possibly correct what they have done. Still, don’t use it as a time to blast them with scoldings in the presence of their siblings. Weigh and address.
From Mr. Just Being Different, remember to examine your child who seems to have very different preferences and tendencies from most other family members. Help them to balance themselves in ways that are acceptable for their individual growth, but also acceptable for right family interactions. Study and understand.
Like variety cookies on a platter at a Christmas get-together, the fun of family comes from having so many personalities to enjoy. In a family, highlight and celebrate with your children their differences. This helps them to embrace each other for the richness of their truest identity.