I was at a lecture the other day and the speaker made this statement,
“Children don’t do well with a list of rules instead of a real relationship.”
That sounds like total common sense to me, but when I really thought about it I had to wonder, “Where do I fall on the pendulum of rules vs relationship with my kids?”
Later that same day I was in a waiting room and got to hear an interesting exchange between a mother and her daughter who was probably 9 years old. It went something like this.
Mom: “Casey (made up name) why aren’t you doing your homework? Now is a good time to get that done so we don’t have to worry about it later.”
Casey: “Mom I am so tired I don’t want to do my homework.”
Mom: “Well I’m tired too but I still have to work. And also when we go to the gym tonight I want you to actually run with me not walk. Walking is not going to get you in shape. And if you can’t run then you can just sit there and do your homework so I can actually get a full work out in.”
Casey is silent, then I hear some rattling.
Mom: “Casey you can’t open that window, what do you think this is your house? Close that right now.”
Casey: “This isn’t fair…..
You get the drift and I got one to from the open window. But this conversation really had me stumped. Here was a mom who was trying to do all the right things. Making her little girl do her homework, having her exercise, not having her break someone else’s property. But everything about it seemed wrong.
How often was I like that with my boys? It made me sad to think of it. When was the last time we had had a real conversation? Not just me telling them what to do and not do but really hearing about what was going on in their lives. When had I settled with the answer “fine” when I knew things were anything but fine?
I prayed that God would help me to be more intentional this week with my fellas to be focused less on rule making and more relationship building.
One day during the week my oldest had an orthodontist appointment. It was right around lunchtime so I decided to take him out to a sit down lunch and just let him talk. His whole face light up when I said, “We are not going to rush through the drive thru of Mcdonalds today to get you back in time for school, today we are going to sit down have lunch, relax and enjoy each other.” He talked for over an hour about all kinds of things. We both walked out of that lunch with a pep in our step and a deeper understanding of each other.
Then I thought okay how I am going to do this with my youngest who is 11 and on the shy side? He typically is not the talker that his older brother is. But when we got to the restaurant he opened up like a soda can that had been shaken up and was ready to be released from all that pressure. I was floored! I listened and asked a few questions and listened some more and when there was a lull, I asked “What would you like to do now?” He said, “Can we just talk a little more?” I almost cried. “Yes! Let’s talk a lot more!” I said
What a sweet sweet lesson I learned this week. I am thankful.