“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?