Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Attitude First

Attitude First – on Parenting:

After school this evening I watched as my son engaged with other boys during his sports practice.
He was excited! So he mostly forgot his determination in the sport and focused instead on entertaining and being entertained.
On the one hand I felt sorry for him... Clearly he was so excited that it was obvious to me he’d missed the social aspect of relating to peers up until now and so was enjoying connecting with others. It was a shame to have to call him on his behaviour.
But on the other hand I was annoyed because he was acting silly, and trying the patience of his coach and wasting valuable skill development time.
After practice, I had to tell him off – gently but firmly – and attempted to convey to him that the sport comes first, then the social interaction.
But given my husband and I have been insisting lately that he look at people who say ‘hi’ to him and respond to them, it seems contrary to scold him now for engaging.
Except that he’d engaged when he should have been paying better attention to the coach and had lost track (somewhat, not totally) of the reason he was in the gym in the first place.
So, as a parent, when you understand the heart of your child yet you see his behaviour is counter-productive, what do you do?

Recently, another parent observed her children and scolded one for his lacklustre behaviour toward his sister. She kind of laughed at herself in the midst of it and said,
“I’m just winging it!”
“Aren’t we all?” was my response.

Aren’t we all!
We do our best. We understand their hearts, observe their behaviours and have to make a call as to whether to show sympathy or to steer them toward maturity. Sometimes it means distancing ourselves from them emotionally. When we are detached it allows the child the privacy to work out his own feelings and to be more independent.
Personally, I find this tough. I find it hard to see my kid disappointed when a few moments earlier he was so elated. But then I remember that what must come first is Attitude.

If his attitude to his responsibility is right, discipline and responsibility will become second nature. Social stuff is really important too, but it has to come somewhere down the list. Otherwise I figure he’ll get tossed to and fro depending on other people’s agendas and interests. I want him comfortable with others, but first I want to see him behaving responsibly and showing self-respect.

When I’m feeling sad for the little guy, or concerned I might be making a mistake, or just feel completely out of my depth as a parent, I pray. God knows my son better than I do and He helps me to steer the path or leads me to sound advice.

Sometimes I wing it, just like my friend. Love, commitment and doing the best I can goes a long way. And there’s nothing quite so affirming as your own kid saying,
“I love you SOO much,” or “You’re the BEST mommy in the world!” even when you are sure you’re not!

But the best advice and encouragement I can think of comes from Proverbs 22:
“Train a child in the way he should go and when he grows up he will not depart from it.”

We do our best. Sometimes we just have to ‘wing it!’ But it’s a wonderful comfort and huge encouragement to know we’ve got our own Father who sees us, knows our hearts, hears our prayers and sends help when we ask... even if that help is an innovative way of disciplining the child or giving us the courage to detach.

Parenting is the most humbling and rewarding experience I can imagine. When duty calls we must step up to the plate. But we can rest assured that, when we teach our children to have an attitude of self respect and respect for others, they will grow up with self esteem and confidence. Then their social lives will be healthy and rewarding.

Attitude first, the rest will follow.

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