Silly Threats

Just the other night, I attended a party for my granddaughter. As I sat back and watched her play, engaging all the guests, younger and older classmates, she was full of joy.  For her, it was not about just her upcoming birthday or the gifts; it was about the fun of having everyone there, spending time with kids and the fun activities planned with care.

Some of her dance team also attended. They twirled around in circles, all laughing, giggling and holding hands as only little girls can do without anyone thinking it is weird. Young enough to not be so harshly judged is a wonderful thing about youth.  Her face was lit up, full of hope and promise for the night and for the future. 

As I sat there, next to my son, we were both silently watching her engaged with
everyone. She was  just laughing and kind of admiring her birthday decorations and all the joy around her. I couldn’t help but comment to him what admiration he must feel for how she is growing into such a happy young confident little girl, looking some days like a young lady. 

During those few moments, we shared some of our fondest thoughts of her there, intimately.  It is as if she felt our loving eyes on her, as we chatted. Before too long, as if on cue, she broke that chatter up,  as  she skipped over to where we sat,  pouncing in her dad’s lap and arms for a barrel hug and a big kiss on the cheek and then ran off. Onward she ran to grab some more life moments, as I watched her, the similarity of her dad seemed to melt away, like it was yesterday, or today, as her dad still does that, minus the skip!  

Being positive is not always easy for parents.  When things are rough around the edges, especially on a harrowing day, parents let their guard down and their worst behavior comes out, just like with their kids. Too often things are said that are more harmful than good.  One of those comments are telling children that they hope they have a child just like they are when they are acting up at home, getting in trouble at school or not paying attention. This is said as if paybacks are a good thing, a way of furthering the punishment on your child.  In reality, this is not what any of us truly wants.

This came recently when I read of a parent that had said these words to her daughter when her child had been a teen.  The mom was dismayed when her daughter got exactly that with her own daughter years later.  She found herself, as a grandmother, on the end of a phone call, much like the ones she had made to close friends, with similar issues she had muddled through with difficulty During the call, grandma’s words played back in her mind, her threatening her daughter, shouting “I pray you get a daughter one day just like you and have to deal with things like this!” She felt a tremendous sense of guilt, wondering if, in the back of her mind, she had something destined this to happen or been responsible for it.    How she wished she could take it back and how sad it was that this was replaying.

I too am guilty of having said this a time or two but have lucked out that neither of my children have had problem children.   There are far more effective ways and things to say when behavior is unacceptable.  We are, too often, habits of our own upbringing repeating what was said to us, not bringing a chain but that doesn’t always make it right. 

This line had virtually no effect on getting my children in line.    Ironic, I spent more time telling my children how they could accomplish anything that wanted. Hence, they did and both have done extremely well. So what kind of threat is this anyways? And for the child that is troublesome it is far better to implement strategies that reinforce boundaries and find outside intervention if needed if a parent is unable to keep a child under control.  Some children simply do not want to be controlled at all.

Becoming grandparents changes your perspective even more.  Watching adult
children having babies of their own and seeing little ones develop and grow is eye-opening. The last thing on earth grandparents want is for their adult children to learn things in the parenting realm the hard way.  Thus, we want them to have easy children to raise, kids with no problems, no issues, no health concerns, all fingers and toes.  Parents want their children to enjoy the child-rearing years, even if they have a strong-willed child or one with some health or mental issues, to get through it without too many struggles. 

In the same vein, sitting back and hearing stories grandchildren excelling in school, moving new hurdles, and mastering accomplishments is delightful.  The furthest desire any grandparent has is wanting children in their bloodlines to fail, to be trouble-makers and not thrive. The opportunity to see improvements in future generations shows continued improvement in parenting skill sets, learned lessons put to work and drawing from the good. Anything but that is not as rewarding to a parent.

I have learned, as many of my friends have, that the last person who wants to take your advice is quite often your children and the spouse of your children. In children and in particular, adult children’s eyes, you know nothing and they are amazed they came out okay, inspite of the fact you raised them.

We discuss this as friends and couples as seldom do they truly know, behind the scenes the sacrifices you went through, all the teacher conferences, the financial woes, sleepless nights, etc so that they could have the best life you could provide. The measuring stick used to evaluate you as a parent is harsh often times, not nearly as soft as the one we use to look at them as parents of grandchildren. However, adult children will listen to other grandparents so consider this advice to those of you that read this! I would suggest the line you have probably heard wishing your children have children like them when they are acting up, take it out of your vocabulary. Or if you do use it, use it with a positive connotation.  For if indeed you recognize your child is a blessing, wish them a blessing also in their future!  For that blessing would be yours as well! Pray that you could be so lucky to be twice blessed! Teach Your Children Right 1st Time