Father’s Day: A Conversation With a Three Year Old

Caleb  (the dad)  and Adam who is 3

I’m finding that parenting involves a lot of scolding. Consider the conversation from this morning. . .
Adam: WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! (x 30 min.)
Me: *frustration rising*
Me: Self, why are you getting angry?
Self: This DUMB KID won’t stop CRYING!


Me: Uh huh, that’s what kids do, Self.
Self: I know it, but ARGH! I’m trying to WORK here!
Me: And will yelling at him do you any good?
Self: . . . no. . . It’ll just make him cry more.
Me: That’s right. Remember, you do bad things all the time, and Jesus still loves you. Now why is he fussing?
Self: . . . You don’t want to know. . .
Me: Try me.
Self: He’s crying because I changed his diaper. Because he asked me to. And because halfway through he decided he didn’t want a diaper change. So I made him sit on the couch.
Me: *blinks* ok. . .
Self: YOU GET MY POINT!
Me: I do. But at this point, he probably just needs a hug and some peanut butter crackers.
Self: You’re right.
Me: Good. Now, what do you say?
Self: I’m sorry.
Me: Don’t tell me, tell him.
Self: But I’m the dad! I don’t want to.
Me: Come on Self. . . Give him a hug and make up.
Self: No.

Me: Don’t make me come back there.
Self: Ok. . . I’m sorry, Adam. I love you kiddo.
Me: That’s better. Now go do right.
Self: Ok. Thanks, Me. You have given me good advice.
Me: It’s only through the power of the Spirit. I wanted to yell at him too.

A special thank you to Caleb for sharing this delightful and educational conversation with goalaccomplished.com readers.  Happy Father’s Day, Caleb!  You are doing a good job.

With this weekend being Father’s Day weekend, it is a good reminder to all the dads and parents out there to keep in perspective that we are raising children.  They are not adults.  They do not have an adult perspective.  They are, in a sense, extremely selfish, because there whole entire job is to take care of themselves.  Just think of the movie Inside Out– the characters of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust rule Riley’s life.  While the parenting goal may be to teach self-control, the reality is that for a 3-year-old, the world is all about them!

Yes, we need to teach and train our children.  Yes, sometimes it does involve a lot of scolding.  Our consistent measured responses to our children’s behavior teaches them what behaviors are acceptable and what ones are not acceptable.  We need to be intentional in our training.  That means that we need to have specific goals for our children and then teach, teach, teach so that they can meet those goals.  It seems to me that some parents want to yell their children into good behavior without the initial teaching- it doesn’t work.  In fact, I think children find that kind of response confusing.  They stop following directions unless they are yelled at- which just leads to more frustration on the part of both the parent and the child.

Example: One time I was in the grocery store about 3 aisles in when I heard a mom enter the store with loud bellowing instructions to her children,

“You better behave or you’ll go out in the car and sit with Grandma!”

shopping cart

The young children happily proceeded to secure for themselves mini shopping carts. They came up with a game.  Their game involved  running at each other from opposite ends of the aisles in a jousting fashion. I could hear the mother constantly fussing at them with the same threat, only each time it was repeated in a louder voice.  I was trying to shop faster and faster to avoid them, but sure enough, they reached my aisle and came barreling down at me from each end.  I actually had to jump out of the way.  When the mom came around the corner, I was scolding her children, telling them to be careful because they had almost hit me.  Again came the threat, “You two better behave or you’ll go out in the car and sit with Grandma!”  Out loud I said,

“I wish you would send them to sit with Grandma!”

Of course, this was not what the mother wanted to hear, and she told me that I had no idea how to raise children and I should mind my own business, etc.  (I was shopping without my children that day.  And I know, I should have kept my mouth shut.)  Of course, her children were not listening to her.  There was a threat of punishment (I feel sorry for the poor grandma who is the punishment for her grandchildren) but no follow through.  Those children would have been better served to have boundaries in place.  The world is a scary place for kids without boundaries.

So whatever stage you are in, have a Happy Father’s Day.  Thanks for being a good dad, a good parent.  Thanks for training your children, setting those boundaries and following through.  Thanks for changing the diapers, sitting the kids on the couch, giving the hugs and for getting them peanut butter crackers.

You are doing a great job!  Happy Father’s Day!

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