I see, Me.

14 Feb

I’ve been so frustrated with my oldest son lately. He’s constantly “parenting” my younger kids.  He tries to tell them what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and even discipline them when they do something he deems wrong.

I’m sure this is common behavior of all children who have younger siblings.  So, I’m not suggesting that this is a problem in my house only. In fact, that’s the only reason I decided to turn this into a post, because I bet parents out there can relate.

As I was expressing my frustration with him yesterday and scolded him with the phrase “You’re not the parent”, something happened in my heart.  I sat down for a second and the Holy Spirit started talking.

I’m not mad at my son because he’s parenting.  The truth is, I actually ask him to parent all the time.  I have him help get the younger kids something to drink or eat, get buckled in the car, pick out their cloths, get tucked into bed and so forth.  I call on him all the time to help me fill my roles as the parent when I need an extra hand or feel too exhausted to serve another person.

I never yell at him to stop parenting in those moments.

The truth?

I’m angry because I don’t like *the way* he is parenting when he’s interacting with the kids.

He gets frustrated really quickly when they don’t do what he says or do it in the way he wants it done perfectly.  And then he yells at them, scolds them, and sometimes even pushes or smacks them.

Where did he learn to have such a short fuse?  To say the phrases that he says?  To belittle the behavior that isn’t “adult enough” in the moment?

Me.

I’m angry with my son because he parents poorly.  And all he is doing is showing me a direct reflection of myself and the way I parent.

Every parent should remember that one day, every child will follow their example instead of their advice.”

It doesn’t matter what I tell him to do or how to react.  I’ve trained him by the constant model I perform.  And regardless of what all those polls show, I firmly believe that EVERYONE learns better while watching an example than being lectured on a subject.

It’s hard in the heat of the moment to remember what you’re told to do.  But it’s easy to react in the manner you’ve had played out for you time and time again.

Practical Application:

He will change, if and only if, I change first.

Stop enforcing discipline on my son for following my example.  I’ve become a hypocrite expecting my child to do as I say, all the while living out exactly what I tell him not to do.

Become broken in every area where I’m failing, and begin to do it right.  This will not come easy.  Habits are hard to break.  So, I suggest putting in accountability measures.  Even if that means having your kids remind you when you say key phrases, facial expressions or actions that need to be changed.  This will enforce to them that change is necessary and even parents make mistakes.

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6 Responses to “I see, Me.”

  1. Elizabeth February 14, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Kayla, I enjoyed reading your post of honest self-examination, but please take comfort in the fact that there is no “perfect” parent, only those who try the best they can with the resources available at that moment. When one is exhausted, drained, very young, distracted, etc.etc. all these things detract from being the “best” we could be under better circumstances. How wise to be aware of the importance of our example, though. My daughter (36 and busy raising three children) sent me a funny text several days ago that said, “I opened my mouth and my mother came out.” She was a difficult teenager, in large part because I was very young and experiencing a crisis of faith myself when she was small, but I always told her that someday she’d understand why I parented the way I did, when she had her own children. Now that day has come, and we’re both laughing about it, and we are the best of friends. Thanks again for a great post!

    • Kayla Gulick February 14, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      Thank you for the encouragement Elizabeth. I too have caught myself sounding just like my mom did! In some ways, that’s great and in others… I repeat her mistakes. Which just further drives this point home for me. But at the end of the day, I offer my mom a lot of grace because parenting is really hard!!! And I think my kids (if I keep raising them in the Lord) will be able to offer me that same grace. And we’ll laugh together too!

  2. Askme February 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Oh friend. Can I ever relate to this post! Thanks for your honesty. May there be a “trickle-down” effect in our home as God changes me first.

    • Kayla Gulick February 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      I always appreciate those who can relate and share their hearts with me here! So much easier not to be alone!

  3. Rick@RomanticHusbands.com February 15, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Great post! A few things come to my mind as I read your post.

    Children to learn by example. They copy their parent’s behavior. This makes sense. However, they lack our experience and control over their emotions. I think we have all learned through trial and error.

    Our parenting styles change as we gain life experience and perspective on our expectations for our children. I wonder if first born children make better parents than youngest children. Clearly from my experiences, my youngest child’s micro environment for far different fro my oldest child’s micro environment. Not only am I a different parent, but my older children have a strong influence on my younger children.

    Our children are a reflection of ourselves. It’s a revelation when we see ourselves in our children. We tend to only notice the traits in our children that we dislike about ourselves. The good things are expected and we just don’t seem to notice them, but they are just as important.

    • Kayla Gulick February 15, 2014 at 10:19 am #

      I agree that there is a HUGE difference between my first and my last. And – you’re SO right. My kids are learning good qualities from us, and I tend to minimize and ignore them because I do expect good behavior. Thanks for adding that thought. I will be intentional about looking for the good traits in my kids too!!

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