This afternoon I was with some friends, and we were all working on some sewing projects when one of the other girls asked if our children fought.
I wasn’t sure how to best answer that, and the more I think on it and ponder, the more I think I didn’t give the right answer. I said “my girls don’t fight” and that is a true statement. They don’t.
But left that way, “My children don’t fight”, does not adequately the answer the real question I think my friend was asking. She wasn’t really asking a “yes” or “no” question. To glibly say “my children don’t fight” is to be at the very least condescending and at the worst hopeless.
I get asked questions similar to that one frequently. And to be honest, I never know how to answer them. But I really don’t know how to answer the “why don’t your children…..”. Frankly, most of the time I don’t know why my children don’t..whatever. It is not because they are perfect, not by a long shot. (Although when my oldest was dedicated, I informed our pastor that she was not going to sin. Man was I wrong.)
For example, I have only one time had to take my children to the restroom in a public place (Target, grocery store, etc) for some discipline. I haven’t. My children also have never thrown a screaming fit in a store. Never. The first time I took my first born into a store and we heard some child screaming from the back of the store as we walked in the front door, I leaned down and whispered into her 48 hours old ear “Oh, someone is throwing a fit. We don’t throw fits in the store.” And I said that every time we heard someone screaming. Neither one of my girls have ever done that.
My P.E.T phrase about parenting is it takes:
Parenting is exhausting work. It is daily. You never really get away from it. It’s constant. And as parents, we have to be constantly consistent. And that is difficult.
We all go into parenting filled with anticipation and expectations. We expect certain things from our children and when those expectations aren’t met, we can act in one of two ways, 1) we can get mad and scream, or 2) we can use it as teaching tool. “I expected this…and you gave me this… . This is what I expect from now on. Deviation from this will result in some type of yuckiness in your life. I don’t suggest you try me but you’re welcome to.” And that leads to the….
Teaching. We have to tell them, and teach them how to meet our expectations. “When I say ‘make your bed’, I expect it to look like this…” and we show them, we teach them. Then we let them make the bed. The first few times it will look like the cat made it. But they will improve.
I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever sat down and told my girls I expect them to get along. One would think because of that my girls would fight constantly and they don’t. I believe this is because I’ve taught them how to deal with conflict when they have had their disagreements. Our house is not huge, and I’m not that old that my hearing is gone. I can hear almost every word they say, and they know it. I have called one or both of them out to say, “I do not like the tone of your voice when you were talking to your sister. You will change it or you will not be able to play with her for the rest of the day.” A true fate worse than death in their eyes. When they come out to “inform” me what the other one did, I ask if there is any blood, “is your sister still alive”, if the answer is “no” I have them work on possible solutions.
One of my girls is an active, people person. For her, sitting on her bed reading a book for an afternoon is torture, (and she LOVES to read) and it is a fate worse than death for her to be alone all afternoon. For my other child, she loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and reading in her bedroom all afternoon. I have had to teach both of them acts of service for the other one. Elizabeth is learning to let her sister read, while she plays. Ariana is learning to set aside her book, knowing she can read more later to play with her sister. She is also learning it is okay to read in her sister’s room, and it’s more fun to read in her own bed while her sister plays in there. (and they always end up playing together)
I love nothing more than hearing my girls read to each other. One will be reading while the other one colors or puts a puzzle together.
Do my children fight? Yes. Often? No. Is it because I’m the perfect parent, and have it all together? Oh heavens no! More times than I can count I have had to humbly myself and apologize to my girls. “Girls, when I xyz, I should not have. Please forgive me.” I remind myself and them that they have Only One Perfect Parent. He is persevering with me, He expects me to be holy, and every day He teaches me to parent a little more like He does.