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Our Kids Might Actually Turn Out Okay [Fingers Crossed]

on August 29 | in Motherhood | by | with 26 Comments

Daddypotamus here. You know, I often worry that time is passing by too quickly and I’m not doing enough to parent my children and prepare them for life.

When these moments come, I either slip into a frenzied despair or I plunge headfirst into a project so I won’t have to consider the possibility.

But there are these rare moments that shimmer like Peter Bishop and it hits me like a cheap shot with a ton of bricks: our kids might actually be okay.

The Setting

It was time to give Mommypotamus a break, so the kids and I found our way to the play area inside North East Mall. Katie was being her usual friendly self, walking up to total strangers and treating them like friends. Somewhere in the buzzing madness of children flittering here and there, Katie fell down and another girl proceeded to jump on her. Katie’s first dogpile didn’t go over so well. From the opposite end of the play area, I heard the distinct sound of my daughter’s scream.

After calming her down, which I accomplished by telling her that we had a limited time left to play, Katie said she wanted to confront her offender.

“She might say sorry,” was her reasoning.

I was skeptical. The average kid I see playing at the mall seems to have no interest in apologies.

I quickly reminded Katie that we need to forgive people who hurt us, even if they don’t ask. Not because I cared about her character so much but because I didn’t want her first conflict resolution with a stranger to blow up in her face. She nodded in that i’m-not-really-listening-but-nodding-is-the-0nly-way-to-get-away-from-you kind of way.

The Climax

I cringed, wondering if she’d come back unable to recover because some girl wouldn’t admit fault or apologize. And yet, I keep my distance, watching from afar. I see the other girl mouth the words, “I’m sorry.” And above the noise of all the other kids I hear Katie say, “It’s alright. I forgive you.”

Priceless.

Then the two girls hug. Next moment they’re holding hands and running together across the play area like the best of friends. #heartwarms

The Moral

Before you shrug this off as yet another strange and nonsensical kid moment, think this through with me. I watched parents’ reactions to Katie’s public forgiveness. They were shocked. They were stunned. She used language they didn’t expect a three year old to know. Heck, some of them might not have ever even heard an adult utter those words.

Forgiveness is an overlooked necessity in 21st Century relationships. It’s not cool. We men tend to pretend the offense never happened, as though admitting a wound is a sign of weakness.

To hear my daughter practicing the art of making things right with someone who offended her makes my heart supremely happy. She’s really learning something. It won’t always turn out this way, obviously. Lots of people, especially total strangers, won’t be always falling over themselves to apologize and make sure she feels okay. But for today, it’s enough to know that she’s practicing REAL relationship skills with real children.

What are some ways we can prepare kids for real life relationships? Share your ideas below!!

Photo credit: Terriko

 

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26 Responses to Our Kids Might Actually Turn Out Okay [Fingers Crossed]

  1. Elizabeth Neblett Schneiderman via FB says:

    What a wonderful experience…you both are doing an incredible job of rearing your children…and Katie is going to be beyond okay…she is an amazing little girl. :)

  2. Michelle R says:

    Wow! We can all learn a great lesson from Katie. I’m curious – what was it she said to the other girl to elicit the apology (and ensuing friendship)?

  3. @Elizabeth – Thank you. The moments where we see progress are rare compared with the times we coach and repeat. And repeat. And . . . well, you get the idea :) It really does help to see that she’s internalizing some things, though!

  4. Alexis D says:

    Great post! :)

  5. Amanda says:

    Having a great loving, relationship with your spouse – actions of kindness, gentle words, and a servant’s attitude toward our significant other will go MILES in demonstrating to children the appropriate way to interact in a relationship.

  6. To clarify: I don’t believe sadness and depression are the same thing. But before we identify what depression is we need to know what normal feelings of rejection/disappointment/sadness look like. This insightful comment from Julie is what got me thinking about this:

    “[M]any of the children I see are going through situational depression. It’s normal to feel overwhelmingly sad when bad things happen in life. Instead of teaching children to coping mechanism to deal with these things, we are teaching them to numb their feelings. Many people don’t know how to go through the process of grieving or recovering from life’s terrible or even minor problems because they’ve been taught that there is a better quick fix. Just like quick fixes in nutrition become harmful so do quick emotional fixes. We were given our emotions by God for a reason. It’s Ok to feel angry or sad. What you do with these feelings is important, we can create a sense of purpose through these feelings.

  7. Awesome post! Forgiveness is SO key to healthy relationships.

  8. Anna-Marie Hizer via FB says:

    I remember several years ago being asked (during a doctor’s appointment) if I had mood swings during my period. Not thinking much about it, I replied ‘yes.’ After all, I would get cranky and a little ‘meh’ during that time. Nothing serious. My doctor then wrote me a script for Prozac! I was floored! Never in my life had I been lead to believe that emotions, no matter the scope, were bad! Now, I hear of people having their children as young as four put on medication because they are ‘unusually emotional.’ Unusually emotional? For a four-year-old?

    It’s not just medication either. There is a reason some schools have football teams with 50 members or cheerleading squads with 30 little girls. Because some people have become so overwhelmingly occupied with sheltering children from disappointment that ‘anyone who tries out makes it.’ IMO, you are setting your child up for failure with tis approach. When I was little, I failed. I cried, I was disappointed and I didn’t always make the team. I learned that I was not always going to be the best and if I wanted something, I had to work dang hard to EARN it. Some children today have zero concept of what it is like to EARN what you want, to work toward a goal and to take pride in your accomplishments and gradesbecause you worked friggin’ hard to get there! It’s sad, really.

    Sorry. I know I got up on my soapbox, but this topic really gets to me sometimes … There is a lot more that I could add, but I will refrain, lol.

  9. That is a great point, Kathleen Pelton. Daniel was just talking a few days ago about my junior high “goth stage” – which had nothing to do with being goth at all. My dad had just died and I was slowly working through the loss. We didn’t know about the benefits of real food and good ole sunshine back then so it was a fairly extended process, but even so I am glad it wasn’t circumvented by medication. With that said, I wonder if Queen Victoria’s obsession with sun avoidance caused her sadness to linger – Vitamin D is a powerful antidepressant!

  10. Elizabeth Neblett Schneiderman via FB says:

    couldn’t agree with you more Anna-Marie! Very true!

  11. Soli Zat Johnson via FB says:

    I would hope so, otherwise they are not going to have any sense of how to handle it as an adult.

  12. Hungry – I totally agree. Marriage was hard for me the first few years because I had a habit of justifying hurtful actions rather than admitting fault and asking forgiveness. Wish I had learned it’s value sooner!

  13. Soli Zat Johnson via FB says:

    Are you familiar with the free range parenting movement

  14. Standing in front of my laptop and cheering Anna-Marie Hizer! WELL SAID!!!

  15. Soli Zat Johnson – Yep. Kristen Food Renegade shared it with me when she stopped by last fall. We are pretty AP early on and then we transition more to a Free Range approach. Though I admit the idea of letting them roam freely outside terrifies me :)

  16. Anna-Marie Hizer via FB says:

    *blush* Thank you! :-)

  17. Soli Zat Johnson via FB says:

    From what little I know of AP that actually makes sense. When the kids are little they need more connection, then later learn how to handle life on their own. I sure don’t want to be managing my kid’s life when they hit an age where they can do it themselves.

  18. Elizabeth Neblett Schneiderman via FB says:

    what is AP?

  19. Elizabeth Neblett Schneiderman – It stand for Attachment Parenting. Basically it describes the way most indigenous cultures parent (breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, etc) with concepts that are not always incorporated in those cultures such as positive discipline. More at http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/principles.php

  20. I read somewhere that the duty of a parent is preventing damage, not preventing pain.

  21. dianthe says:

    LOVE!!! i really have to work at letting Myles and Sydney work out issues between them without me jumping in – it’s a lot easier on me when i jump in and mediate – of course that also teaches them to come and tattle when they’re not getting their way – one thing i try to remember to say when a problem comes up is, “well, how are you going to handle that” or “what are you going to do about that?” – it forces them to take a minute to 1. calm down and 2. figure out how they can get the response they want – now if i could just remember to say it instead of swooping in to save the day! ;)

  22. TreaSon Holdings via FB says:

    My 4 yr old is going through massive change right now. We have daily conversations around its not only OK, but good to be sad, angry, etc sometimes. These are Important. Emotions to feel, to work through and we can love and support each other through process. Works better than time outs!

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