Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why I Don't Make My Kid Share

Gasp!  I don't make my kid share.  And guess what, I am not going to make your kid share either.  What I do teach is taking turns, waiting your turn, patience, and the respectful way to use words.

I've been a teacher for over ten years.  I've worked with a variety of ages.  And when I did, I taught sharing.  Why?  Because that is what did and how did things.

However, since having my own kids and reading a few things, I've changed how I go about it.  Think about it for a moment.  As an adult we never make someone else share what they have with us.  We don't just go up and take something, telling them they have to share.  We don't tell another adult they have to share something they have.

Picture this...there is you, another person, and myself out for coffee.  We are enjoying ourselves and our conversation together. You are holding onto something, let's say it's your cell phone, that the other person wants.  So I, turn to you and tell you that you have to share.  When you don't, I make you.  I take it from you and give it to the other person telling you that you need to share.

How do you feel right now?  That's what I thought.  Now, imagine it from the perspective of a child.

This is why I don't teach sharing.  No adult would ever do things this way, so why do we make kids.  I know what you are thinking.  But the child has to learn to play fair.

I agree, they have to learn to play fair, but fair doesn't mean giving up what they have and what they are doing because your kid wants it now. 

I teach taking turns.  When my child is done with it, you can have it.  It could be in a minute, it could be in twenty.  The same goes for something my child wants.  They have to ask and wait for the other person to be done with the item.  In the meantime, during the waiting, we offer up other suggestions of what can be done.  We try to find another toy or something similar to do until ready to make the trade.

The only time I will push for my child to share something is when he has two of the same thing that they are playing with.  For example, you have two trucks, can you please give one to your friend to play with? Or, when there are a lot the same toys, like legos, so there is definitely more than enough for both kids to play with at the same time.

If you ask my child to share or say to them "why can't you just share", you will be met with resistance.  Chances are, if you use the word share, he may look at you in a funny way as well.  Why? Because when it comes to sharing, he relates it to food.  Because when you have food that is of interest, we ask someone if they would be willing to share what they have. There is very little crossover to non food items.

I know what else you are thinking.  He will be going to school in a couple of years and he will have to learn to share there, so I need to get him use to giving up what he has because he is told to share.  My thought, and hope, is that by the time he goes to school, he has the confidence and respect to say, "I'm still using this, but when I am done I will let you have it".

You may not like it, your kid may not like it.  But you know what, in our world today, we need to learn how to wait for things, we need to learn patience, and we need to learn that just because we want something doesn't mean we are entitled to it. 

So, no, I will not make my kid share.  I will ask him if someone else can have a turn and help him with the words to say if he isn't gone yet.  I will have him wait his turn until the item in question is available.  I will say thank you when he does share, especially when he just does it.  And if it comes down to it, I will set a timer to let him know when his turn is up. However, I will not make my kid share.  I will let him share when he is ready.

So please, don't tell my kid that they have to share or when he won't share the item because he is still using it don't say "why can't you just share".  It's a different approach, I know.  But in the long run, it works. Just remember, stop and think about it from their perspective for a moment before you make them.  It works in a lot of areas of life as well, not just with sharing and taking turns.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Thunderstorms of Life

The past two mornings we've had thunderstorms roll through early in the morning.  Too early to be awake for the day, but hard to go back to sleep as they move through.  And yet, we have more in store for tonight and tomorrow morning.

Normally, I like a good old fashion thunderstorm...every now and then at least.  But even better is just listening to rain fall.  Nowadays, I dread a thunderstorm coming through, especially at night.  Why?  Because its pretty much a guarantee that my oldest will wake at some point during it and it will be a bit before he goes back to sleep.  Sometimes, we get lucky and the storm passes through quickly and he falls back asleep quickly.  Other times, he wakes multiple times until the storm is gone.

Yesterday, after a tiring weekend, when they rolled through, I knew he would wake, but I was not ready.  I was tired.  So, I let him climb into our bed and fall back asleep.  Which of course, he wanted to do this morning as well when another storm rolled through.  Fortunately, the ones this morning came through late enough that it was almost time to be awake for the day.

I, like my son, would rather they go through during the day.  That's when I like them the most.  If I had it my way, when they roll through at night, I would curl up in a ball, put my pillow over my head, and cover myself up with a blanket until they pass.  But, with kids, I can't do that.  I have to be braver and stronger for my kids.

While laying next to him, it got me thinking.  About the thunderstorms in our lives.  Sometimes we can see them coming.  They are on our radar.  Other times, they pop up unexpectedly.  And still, there are times when the conditions are right, so we put up our guard just in case and they may or may not pass through. 

We don't know how quickly they will pass through.  We hope that they move quick, but sometimes they linger.  We don't know if they will be big or small.  We don't know if it will last one day, one moment or keep coming day after day.

They bring with them all the emotions that flood us like the rain falling down.  There are many ways to weather them.  Hunker down and ride them out.  Dare to venture out.  Hide away and try to block them out. Even push them down and try to ignore them, even if they keep popping up.

But there is something about these storms.  They come to teach a lesson of some sort.  How we handle them affects the outcome.  Sometimes right away, and yet other times we don't see the affects until later on.  Sometimes the storms repeat themselves every so often.  Either way, it keeps us on our toes.

I am not sure why I would rather hide away during a real thunderstorm.  Maybe something inside me remembers an experience from childhood that my brain can't remember.  I've weathered a lot of storms throughout my life.  The ones that stick with me are the ones that happened while camping.  Not sure why, but I can still remember them as if I was still there...even all these years later.

The thunderstorms of our lives can be that way too.  Something from days past can keep popping up through the current storms.  I've gone through life's thunderstorms differently depending on what it is and when, but the outcome is usually the same.  I pray to get through them as quickly as I can.

But some of those storms have left lasting damage, that even with time, will not ever go away. 

Something else I've noticed is that with the really big storms, there is a rainbow to follow.  One of my biggest life storms was when our daughter died.  My rainbow? My oldest son two years later, arriving happy, healthy, crying.

As I continued to lay there while my son slept, I began to wonder.  I wondered, how do we teach our children that there are going to be storms in their lives and how to make it through those storms?

Right now, I can offer a safe place that brings comfort and calm.  I can offer a hug and a snuggle to make things better.  But I will never be able to keep the storms away.  I will have to teach him how to ride out the storms.  If that means hunkering down and riding it out, venturing out, or hiding away than that is what we will do...together.  Because together, we can make those storms seem less scary.  Together, we can make it through.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kids, Marriage, & Yourself

As we grow up, we begin to learn and see what life is like.  We go from being kids, to being an adult.  Our roles and abilities are ever changing.  Then we get married and have kids of our own.  Suddenly, we shift from taking care of ourselves, to taking care of our spouse and our marriage, and then our kids in whatever stage they are in.  At the end of the day, sometimes we are spent and there is nothing left.

It is a delicate balance when we start adding in other people and relationships into our lives.  As moms, we tend to put others first,   In the moments we do give to ourselves, we feel guilty over it.  But why?  Why do we feel the guilt?

If I knew the answer to this, I wouldn't keep falling into the guilt cycle as often as I do.  I like many others, put my kids first.  Then, my spouse and marriage.  If there is anything left, it goes into me.  However, even with that little bit there is sometimes, I still feel guilty.  Maybe I could have put more into another area. 

But at what cost? 

Recently, I listened to a podcast that talked about families and marriage, and life in general.  It likened our lives to a stove with the burners turned on.  Some burners had a higher flame than others.  And some burners were so high, they were nearing a flame.  Once that flame catches, it grows, and things are under fire.  Take a listen here (http://www.parentswho.com/episode26/), it is worth the 20 minutes to listen to it. It got me thinking, what other areas of my life do I need to better tend to?

Much like our lives, we have different burners going.  Some are getting the attention needed while others are not.  However, if all our burners are on, but we are only focused on certain ones for a long time, what happens to the others?  At what point do we realize we need to tend to those other burners before things go up in flames?  And then we are left, when the smoke clears, dazed and confused, wondering how in the world this could have happened.

When we are married and have kids, we need to dial into all areas.  This includes ourselves.  All this without feeling guilt.  Its a tough one.  But sometimes, we need to let go of the control so that we can tend to the other areas.  Sometimes, we need to ask for help.

I am not great at this in all honesty.  When I get moments to myself I fill them with running errands like grocery shopping.  Every so often, its a haircut.  But I find that when it's something truly for myself, I feel the heavy weight of guilt.  And yet, given the chance to be doing my own thing, I am at a total loss for what to do.

Same goes with my marriage.  Since my oldest was born, we have not had a "date night". At least, not until recently.  Sure, we could have found stuff to do at home once he was asleep, but we generally took the couch and TV.  But, to actually go out, just the two of us and not feel guilty, hasn't happened until about a month ago.  At that point, our oldest 3 and youngest 10 months were napping and my parents could watch them.  We headed out.

But once in the car, we sat for a moment.  Why?  We had no idea what to do, where to go.  We've known we should do something, but just haven't.  And since our youngest was born, it's harder to do as he is nursing and still needs to nurse before going to sleep.  Most nights, both kids weren't down in bed until almost 9:00 and by then we were both too exhausted to do anything, let along want to go anywhere.

Now, with kids a little older and my youngest a little more predictable, we have the down time and the ease to do something.  Just need to find a sitter.  But, there is still a little part of me that is being nagged by guilt.  I am not sure why though.  In order for us to thrive as a family, our marriage needs to thrive.  Beyond that, as individuals, we need to thrive.

We need to do things that truly make us happy, fill our buckets, and dare to dream.  Then, we need to put the same effort into our marriage.  Because as kids grow up, we get more time together.  We've all changed over the years and we need to keep our marriages strong.  Our kids need us to be at our best so we can give them our best.

Yes, some days or hours or minutes will draw more attention one way or the other.  But by the end of the day, week, month we need not draw too much to one area while letting the other areas simmer.  Instead of waiting for a flare up, we need to maintain and without guilt.

So, how do you manage your life's burners? It's not worth waiting for the flare ups and near fires.  A little maintenance goes along way.  Letting go of the guilt can make a big difference.  It allows all areas to simmer and when needed we can easily tend to where our attention is needed, for the amount of time needed.

Release the guilt. Take care of yourself, take care of your marriage, take care of your kids.