Thursday, July 26, 2007

downward love flow

there's a very subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) temptation i have as a parent. i'm tempted to want relational love from my kids. i'm tempted to expect my kids to show ME love, meet MY needs, take care of ME. i want the flow of relationship and love to flow UP from child to parent.

i know, it's weird. but i'm positive i'm not the only one. i see it all around:
~ i've seen it in the boomer generation's frustration that their parents don't pursue relationship with them.
~ i've seen it each time an aunt tries to make a kid give them a hug or show affection. (and then shames them when they don't do it.)
~ i've heard of more radical family messes where the children are confidants to their parents.

i don't think it's just me. if it was, that'd be ok too. i can own my stuff ;)

the goal for be the pursuer, to be the one who takes the initiative, who shows my kids love. and i'm not talking just about lovey-dovey stuff....instructing and coaching my kids when i don't feel like entering in again is love too.

i see this in the scriptures. in the proverbs, we see a father taking initiative with this son to train and coach. he's taking initiative. in titus, i see the older men and women being the impetus for relationship and coaching to the younger people.

so the flow of love is downward, not upward. i'd expect that when my kids are adults, there might be some flow back. but i'm not going to stop thinking that initiative goes from parent to child until i'm too old to take care of myself. i'd imagine that the flow would look different in different phases or life and circumstances in relationship with my children. but i want to be the headwaters, not expect them to.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

boomer guilt?

"life goes fast. make sure that you spend plenty of time at work."

those are words that i've never heard. in fact, at least once every couple weeks someone of an older generation tells me to make sure i spend plenty of time with my kids. at first, i just took this advice as just the culturally acceptable thing to say when talking about family and children. but i wonder?

i wonder if this is in fact the advice of many people (can i say most people) who are reflecting on their life and where they've spent their time. i almost hear an overtone of guilt when i hear these words.

it seems to me that the boomer generation is sensing the ill affect of a radical naturalism applied to parenting. naturalism has been the religion of the past generations. the goal seems to be "just feed a kid three good meals a day, make sure they get a great education and they'll turn out great." it's the view of life that only acknowledges the physical and mental. i wonder if many are sensing that something has been missing.

i might be reacting too far in the opposite direction, but i don't want to get to the end of my life and wish i used my time better. maybe i'll get to my 50's and wish i had spent less time with my family and children. but i doubt it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

win-win parenting

i bet someone else has already coined the term "win-win" parenting. if not, maybe i'll get dibs on it :) there's lots of training out there on how to view relationships in business in a win-win way. win-win refers to working at a business deal, conflict, etc. until there both parties "win". in relationships, this might be called finding a resolution where both parties are have their needs and concerns met. i'm probably not defining this accurately, but you get the idea.

i wonder how this would apply to parenting.

we just listened to a presentation from the Love and Logic guys on the three parenting styles and what each style really teaches kids. it was good. i liked most of it except the apparent win-lose attitude. it seems to me that most people see the kids as the enemy to be defeated. kids are born with a mission to control the parents. the parents' goal is to win at all costs. that means that the kids lose.

i wonder if there's a different attitude to have?

the other night made this crystal clear in my head. night times are a constant "battle" :). you can't read a parenting book that doesn't address bedtime and sleep. kids just aren't designed to sleep the way that we have them sleep. we've been trying different things.

caleb is turning four in four months. we have a good night time routine. but it just wasn't (and still isn't) working. caleb comes out of his room or calls for us eight, nine, ten or more times in the hour to an hour and a half it takes for him to fall asleep! :)

i went into his room at one point the other night and he was just falling apart. i just didn't get it, so i asked him "why do you call mommy and daddy so much." he said, "because i'm scared when you're not in the room."

"ah, the 'i'm scared' tactic," one voice in my head said. "you just want to make my life miserable like you have since you were born. i'm not falling for that one. i'm going to win!"

another voice chimed in. "why is he scared?" so i ask him, "caleb, why are you scared when we're not in the room."

"i don't know," he moaned genuinely, "i just am." i wonder if win-win would work. "hmmm, "i say, "mommy and daddy like to have some time together or some alone time at night. and you are scared when we're not in the room. can we figure out a way to help everyone." he looked at me in an involved way. "do you have any ideas of what we could do to help you not be scared and at the same time have alone time for us." he looked at me despairingly, "nooooo."

then caleb turned his face from out of the pillow and asked, "do you have any ideas?" now i'm melting because i'm having a helpful conversation with my three you old and he's actively involved in problem solving (which is of course one of my loves. :)

"hmmmmm...." i said, "not yet. hmmmm...." i paused thinking. then i said "what if we put the baby praise cd on in your room at night" would that help you not feel scared? caleb lit up, "yeah!"

i went downstairs and got the cd player and cd, turned it on and he was asleep without calling us in fifteen minutes. (now it hasn't gone that well each night, but it definitely has helped!)

i wonder if too often we assume our kids are out to win, when they are just trying to have their needs met....real needs, not just made up ones.

i like this perspective a lot better than win-lose. let's see if i can keep it up :)