Points to ponder
When you must do something about an incident involving your child, you need to remember some specific helps as you approach him in a positive manner.
1. Physical and verbal approach
When there is a disturbing incident among children, you must go to the scene in person. Such incidents are seldom a life-and-death matter. You need to arrive at the scene in a relaxed, casual manner. You can move rapidly without appearing hurried or upset. You seldom need to get there at top speed, with your hair flying and all out of breath.
Give thought to your first words. Even if the children are screaming and hitting, you can take a few seconds to consider what you will say or do when you get there. Tone of voice and choice of words are important. You can speak firmly, but in a kind way.
Get eye-to-eye contact. It helps to be on the same level with the person to whom you are talking. You need not stand over your children, looking down on them and they up at you. Scoop them up in your arms, or get down to where they are.
2. Attitudinal approach
What led up to the situation? Often parents bear down on children with no plan of approach. If you are to be helpful, you need to know what happened. As you drew near the group, you may have seen the whole situation or you may not have. It is equally important that you know what was said between the children. Parents tend to ignore the words exchanged between children. If you do not know what happened, your first task is not to say, “You kids, quit your fighting!” No doubt they want to quit as much as you want them to quit. Rather, your first task is to find out what led up to the situation. This need not be a cross-examination. If everyone talks to you at once, or if there is disagreement over what happened, you simply will not get the facts.
Remedy the situation. You will need to take action with or without the facts. If you can get the facts easily, you will be fortunate. If you lack information, be aware of your lack. Perhaps the children were too loosely supervised in the first place. There was no one around to see what was happening until the outburst occurred. Be slow to judge or to fix blame. Keep your questions to a minimum. Remember that your firm, kind manner will be the key to the situation. Never give a choice unless you are prepared to accept either choice. The children may need help through positive, firm adult action. You can try distraction, channeling their activities in another direction, isolation, retiring disputed equipment, kind physical restraint.
Trial and error on the part of the adult are involved. Your first attempt may or may not be successful. No one makes perfect decisions always. The final result may not mean happiness for all concerned. You may need to help a child accept frustration. This is often done best in silence. To illustrate, your child might tearfully sob, “I want that truck.” But he can’t have the truck just now. Within you, silent acceptance and sympathy for his desire are in order. This is no time for a lecture on sharing. This is the time for a demonstration.
You need to accept children’s negative reactions in a tense moment, but you need not give in to them. Remember that, in the perspective of a year of living, this is just an incident and that you are the steadying, dependable influence. You never know what your children will do next, but they ought to know what you will do next. When the incident is over, cease talking about it.
Parenthood is a full-time job. To qualify, you need to be a person of inner peace–the peace that passes understanding, given by God, and evidenced in the unexpected, unprepared for, unwanted twists and turns of life. This inner peace, then, makes life a fascinating, pleasant journey, wherever it may lead. Parenthood, to be successful, requires a partnership of two people dedicated to the task of blending their bodies, souls, and spirits into a unit that is dedicated to serving God and pleasing Him.
Parenthood requires an acceptance of the task, the desire to understand it, the willingness to be as diligent in preparation and performance as the most accomplished artist, business leader, or professional.
Conflicts and problems will arise. These can lead you to ever higher levels of accomplishment as you demonstrate the power of God through them. To identify problems and solve them is to find success. To cover them up or pretend they are not there is to taste defeat. Each partner should be ready and willing to see his part in any decision or task and do it as a dedicated servant of God.
There is nothing magic or accidental about living a life of happiness, peace, and joy. Building a happy family requires that you abide in Christ. There is nothing easy or automatic about it.
Guiding children implies a purpose and a goal. You need to know where you are going. You need to assume responsibility for influencing your children. Your influence for good or for ill will probably count more than any other in the lives of your children (Proverbs 22:8). You must work hard to make learning wholesome and effective for your children.
Parenthood is a twenty-year-long job. If you do your work well, you will lose your children. They will leave to attend to their own careers and families. Therefore, it is important that you should be effective partners, that you should keep in touch with each other and stay friends. You will reach your later years just as you started–only the two of you facing a new and glorious life together. You ought to train your family with this goal in mind: that when the day comes for you to say “Godspeed” to your children as they begin to plan for their own families, it will be a joyful day for both of you, with memories of happy years gone by. Then you can look ahead with a keen anticipation because you have trained your child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). Then you and your partner can look deep into each other’s united souls and anticipate the time when the risen Lord will say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Meanwhile, with mutual consent you can say, “Bring on our new life together and let us make it a fruitful one for the glory of God.”