Answering that of God

How do you respond to that of God in your child? A question that was not asked of me as a parent when my children were growing up. I wonder if it should have been asked especially if I was to follow Fox’s suggestion that I “answer that of God in every” person? The question assumes that I was to see or feel that of God in my child in some way so that I could respond. Or maybe I was to carry a belief in the goodness of the child and it is that belief in their goodness that I could have responded to.

Then I have to ask myself, is it Pollyannaish to look for goodness in a misbehaving child?

A group of psychiatrists are answering that question for themselves. They are working with at risk young people. They have taken the position that these young people want to do well but don’t have the knowledge and/or skills for doing so.  These psychiatrists have developed a system for working with at risk young people based o their belief in the young people’s desire to do well that is proving strong in producing change. It is reassuring to find scientific evidence that supports my faith and its beliefs.

However, I know my role does not stop with the belief in my children wanting to do well. The question is how can I help them do so? The psychiatrists have developed a system for helping young people live “well” or more appropriately.  I wonder if further seeking out their work will not be helpful to parents who are living with and guiding their children whom they want to believe are basically wanting to be good?

I’ll let you know.

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Are we setting expectations?

I’d never really thought about how my statements could be setting expectations for my four-year-old grandson until  I heard a mother announce to the other parents at the playground,“We’re  grouchy today. We got up too early.”  She was sitting on the park bench with each of her  children, a child of two or thereabout and another around four,  wiggling to seemingly get onto her lap.  The four-year was whining loudly that Ian, the younger, was in his way. Ian was whimpering.

I wondered what these children were hearing. Was the expectation set that they should be grouchy?  If, as I like to think, children this age are trying to figure out what their role is and what they are suppose to do, by listening to what they are told, these children were behaving very obediently.

Would the children’s behavior have been different if the parent had said instead, “ We got up way too early today. We will have to work hard to keep our voices low and to find things to do to not be grouchy?”  She might even have continued, “Let’s go for a nice high swing,” while actually getting up and guiding her children toward the swings. Who knows what the outcome might have been but it is worth thinking about what expectations our words may be giving to our children.

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My child is talking about death. Is this normal?

My daughter (7) has recently been making morbid comments and seems to find them funny at times. For example, the family dog was taking a car ride with us and she commented that “if we were in a car wreck, Dog is going to die” (because the dog wasn’t buckled in) Most recently she told her aunt that it would be funny if said aunt died in a hurricane that had a name that rhymed with aunts name because it would be ironic. I explained to her that death is not a subject to joke about, and that the things she says can hurt people’s feelings. I strongly cautioned her to think about the things she’s going to say before she says it, but I’m still slightly concerned about the sort of comments she makes. Is this normal?


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Listening without interpreting

A friend told me the following story twenty years after it had occurred.

She found him, she told me, her thirteen year old son, in his room sobbing. Here he was just back from his two month summer visit with his Dad. He’d seemed happy to be back and had had little to say about his visit.

“I’ve done it,” she thought, as she sat down beside him and put her arm on his back. While her son had been gone she had married Ken, the man that had been in their lives for the last three years.

In the years since Jeremy’s father had just up and left them she and Jeremy had become very close. The older boys were teen agers and off doing their own activities so there had been just the two of them so often for supper or watching TV of an evening. Then as Ken became more involved in her life he’d joined them for a game or a movie. He’d started taking Jeremy to ball games. An avid fisherman, when he realized that Jeremy wanted to go, he’d taken him along. “But doing things together, and his mother marrying the man must have been too much,” Grace concluded thoughtfully and sadly.

Patting Jeremy’s back gently Grace asked very softly, “Can you tell me what’s troubling you so much?”

Jeremy, between sobs, sputtered out, “I love Ken more than my own Dad.”

It is so easy to listen carefully and then draw our conclusions which may or may not be an accurate reflection of what is actually bothering our child.

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Sibling relationship

I want my children to like each other. My brother and I have no contact. Is this just the way siblings are or can I do something to help them be friends? My son is four and my daughter 1.

Submitted by: Becky

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