When it comes to my children, there are two things I can always count on. First, the moment I sit in front of my computer, squabbling escalates until one or both draws blood. Second, Sarah never voluntarily wears anything that covers an inch of skin between her knees and her hips ... and, once I dress her appropriately, she will strip it off as soon as my back is turned.
She will wear three layers on her arms, but her thighs have got to be free.
It's terrifying, really. I want to do everything in my power to make sure she has the tools she needs to avoid some of the mistakes her birthmother made. (And some of those her forever mother made as well.)
I've come to terms with the idea that I may need to make concessions, for Sarah's and Christopher's sake, while there is still time to empower them to make good choices. And one of those areas (besides modesty) is the ability to choose kindness. Kindness with each other. Kindness with their parents. Kindness with themselves.
Yesterday I was reading from Gordon Neufeld’s Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, about the motivating force behind bullying.
The problem, it turns out, is not a sense of superiority so much as a sense of fear -- in particular, the fear of not getting his emotional needs met by his parents. Once those needs for closeness are satisfied, the aggressive tendencies go away of their own accord.
In parenting, bullying can be the same way ... at least, I've experienced it this way. I've found myself being harsh with Christopher especially when he seems to be taking the easy way out, or the sloppy way. Afraid that he will fall behind the rest of his peers, I sometimes forget that a moment of bullying can undo months of patient, kind instruction. And in the end, which is more important -- a perfectly finished homework paper, or a sense that his mother believes in him?
Yes, ideally he can do both ... but when we must choose, I need to choose kindness.
Lord, let me choose kindness today.