A Patient Parent and a Crying Child

A good parent is patient with a crying child.  Thanks to Caleb for sharing this opening story and for being a good dad to his kiddos.

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, talking to myself: 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. . .
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.   You are doing a good job.

The above account  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 extremely selfish, because their 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 in aisle 3 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 these children who were jousting with their miniature shopping carts, but I wasn’t fast enough.

Sure enough, the children reached my aisle and came barreling down at me from each end.  I jumped out of the way.  I scolded the children, telling them to be careful because they had almost hit me.  The mother came around the corner, “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!”

Did I mention that I said this out loud?! 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 four children that day.  And I know, I should have kept my mouth shut.)

Did yelling at the children help them obey?

No, of course not.  Those children that they did not have to listen to their mom.  There was a threat of punishment 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, enjoy your kids.  Thanks for being 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.

 And even when you are frustrated, remember: A good parent is patient with a crying child.

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