I attended a short workshop on temperament last week, where I was able to, very generally, look at my kids and see what their temperaments are (based on the DISC model, for those of you familiar) (I also identified my husband’s temperament, but that’s another post for another time). The instructor pointed out that temperament doesn’t change – it’s who we are – but that as parents, our job is to create an environment that allows for the most growth for each child based on his temperament. Because we can’t change them…but we can mold them.
Which got me thinking about the environment we’re creating in our house. Gone are the days of those first guidelines we had to drill into our kids when they were young: share your toys, we don’t throw things, we don’t throw things at each other, etc. You know, the stuff you put in place to make sure your toddler isn’t terrorizing other kids, and can start to learn the value of being nice to people.
Of course, those earlier guidelines still apply; they just aren’t having to be reiterated daily at this point.
I think we have to be intentional about this. It’s healthy to think about whether there are things in place in our homes that make them conducive to growth and maturation that maximizes one’s inherent strengths, and redirects one’s inherent shortfalls.
Here are the things that I feel like we’re shifting our focus to (or in some cases, already have, but haven’t put it in words):
1. Love and serve God. First and foremost, our decisions and our actions need to go through this framework.
2a. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I so remember my parents using this, and I remember at one point a few years back thinking, “it isn’t quite time for this one yet, but those days are coming…” Well, they’re here. For the most part, our boys get along well. However, as all parents of more than one kid know, siblings cycle through stages where they aren’t getting along, and then they cycle out of those stages into more peaceful ones. Right now, Jack Henry and Bennett are like oil and water. (Awesomely, the plan is to move them into a bedroom together later this spring. Fun times, and potentially, fantastic blog fodder, ahead.) Learning earlier, rather than later, that there are times when it’s just a good idea to keep your mouth shut, can only benefit them.
2b. Name-calling will never be tolerated. Ever. It’s not an issue yet, and maybe that’s because we’ve always been intentional about it, but I am bound and determined to keep it this way. I want to make them aware of how pervasive a problem this is in the world, and how it can not only escalate to bullying, but also make them look bad, so they know how to resist it and stand up to it. I don’t care if you’re a famous radio guy or an elementary school kid on the bus: name-calling is not ok.
2c. Bullying will never be tolerated. Again, a pervasive societal problem that hasn’t hit close to home yet, but will. I don’t want to make the “my kid will never be a bully” assumption…that’s naive. But I am hopeful that awareness from home, coupled with the effort our school is making, will help them identify those behaviors on a big or small scale and avoid them.
3. Be world-changers. Bennett mentioned the other day that Martin Luther King, Jr. made a statement at 8 years old that he would someday make things better for people like him. I told him how awesome that is, and that sometimes, though it’s rare, people know from a really early age that they’re going to do something big like that. I don’t expect that of my kids, but I do want them to grow up knowing that they can change their own little corner of the world. Or maybe even more than that. This takes effort and sometimes, it feels like it would just be easier to not do it or do a job on my own, but that won’t teach them what I want them to learn. I also want them to learn not to hop on the bandwagon for a cause just because it’s popular and on the surface seems good.
4. Brothers = Best Friends. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I want them to value each other more than their friends. So we’re going to keep talking about it.
Obviously, this isn’t entirely inclusive. But seeing these points on the board, and talking about them, is going to help us create the environment in which we want our kids to be raised.