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Two Sides of the Same Coin

“I want!” is a phrase that moms hear often from their children. My Grasshopper (6yo), though, has a habit of merely implying that she wants something and then expecting me to understand. “My glass is empty,” may mean that she is done, or it may mean that she wants more. And she gets a little miffed if I don’t immediately know which it is. So we have been working with her on learning to ask for what she wants.

The other day, we went to my friend’s annual bonfire. Grasshopper remembered that last year, they had glow sticks for the kids. After the activity was well under way, she went to the hostess and said, “I remember that last year we had glow sticks.” My friend had purchased the glow sticks for the occasion but had forgotten to hand them out. She was grateful for the gentle reminder.

As my husband was praising Grasshopper for her diplomacy, I realized that these two behaviors were one in the same—two sides of the same coin. In some instances, it is perceived as diplomacy, a great social skill. In other circumstances, it is perceived as demanding—wanting everyone else to anticipate her every need. It occurred to me that if I am not careful, I could train the diplomacy right out of her.

Similarly, I was talking to my husband, remarking to him about Grasshopper’s great patience, especially with Cricket, her 3yo brother. He responded, “Patience is not her problem. It’s work. She has great patience for things not getting done.” (Now, this wasn’t intended as a criticism, but as a recognition of something he has in common with her—something that she has inherited from him.)  Patience and procrastination are two sides of the same coin.

As a mother, I need to see both sides of the coin—to recognize the good and the bad sides to my kids’ behaviors. A behavior may not be very useful in one situation, but I need to look beyond the moment to see if that same behavior might be useful elsewhere. If I don’t, then I may very well be training my children not to use their God-given gifts. And in the world we live, I cannot afford to discipline social skills such as patience and diplomacy. These character traits are too important, too useful in our personal lives and in God’s kingdom.

So taking those things about your kids (or anyone) that are driving you bonkers, can you imagine how that behavior or trait will actually help them or others? Can you see both sides of the coin?

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Sandy Grant November 3, 2011, 1:50 pm

    I often think that we need to do this much more than we do. Especially when I hear parent and teachers lament about children who are overactive or with ADHD . Oh wouldn’t we all be so happy if our husbands always had to be busy working on something yet when out young boys can’t keep still we scorn. Some of the best hardworking husbands I know used to be one of those uncontrollable boys.

    I also have noticed as Allison pointed out that my most stubborn kids are the ones that as they mature are the most steadfast and immovable when it comes to making good choices.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 3, 2011, 1:03 pm

    Tracy, this realization is crucial to good parenting, IMO. So often the things that can drive you crazy in kids can be their best assets as adults.

    A stubborn child is really just a tenacious and steadfast. An outspoken child is really just direct and honest. An introvert is cautious and thoughtful.

    All in all, I think every single character trait has a good side and a bad side. Perhaps more accurately, it has a good use and a bad use — or a good and bad applications. Sometimes you need to speak up and sometimes you need to shut up. 🙂 (Not that I’ve been able to distinguish between those two very well…)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Great Cell Phones for SeniorsMy Profile

  • Tracy Keeney November 3, 2011, 2:07 pm

    Good points all around Tracy. Teaching our children HOW to use their strengths wisely is so important– because as you pointed out, a strength can be a weakness if it isn’t used wisely.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 3, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Sandy, great point out ADHD! I so agree. The whole phenomenon seems kind of fishy to me. (And, yes, I had one child diagnosed with it.)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Great Cell Phones for SeniorsMy Profile

  • Amber Mae November 4, 2011, 9:52 am

    So true!

    I’ve got a good friend who’s little boy is all over the place. She handles his energy great and always says, “Just imagine! If we can focus all of that on a mission! He’ll be amazing!”

    Not sure how much it applies to my little one quite yet. But when we were going through the colic stage my doctor comforted me by telling me all the statistics on how colicy kids tend to do amazing things in life because they know what they want and go for it.

    Good points all around. I love reading everyone’s parenting perspectives. I learn so much from you ladies 🙂
    Amber Mae recently posted…Christian CourageMy Profile

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