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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Parenting- Quick Reaction, Wrong Response

My oldest just turned ten and my youngest is five. I'm at the point in my life when my parenting tactics have to be readjusted to fit the appropriate situation without losing my credibility with them.

Having a ten year old can start to be a little trying since he's becoming more private and doing things on his own. It won't be long before he's hanging out with his friends more than hanging out with us and peer pressure is going to be something that he's going to have to deal with and there are going to be choices that he's going to make that are going to be good or bad.

As parents, we're going to want to maintain control, but at some point, our kids are going to have to learn to do things by themselves, and we're going to have to let them so they can grow up to be responsible adults.

Sometimes, the way that we handle things can have a lasting impression and the way that we do it can have positive or negative consequences.

Quick Reaction, Wrong Response

I had an experience that didn't really traumatize me, but the way that this situation was handled, made it very difficult for me to enjoy something that I would have if it were handled better.

I went to a Christian concert when I was 16.

During the intermission, one of the bands asked for sponsors to help feed a hungry child in a third world country for $30 a month. At this point, spirits were high and everyone is excited. The only thing that you needed to become a sponsor was a steady paying job

My friends wanted to do this and decided that they would each chip in their own money to help one of these kids. Since I was the only one with a job, they placed my name on the sign up sheet and turned it in.

When I learned about this, I worried that I would end up being responsible for the full amount, which troubled me because my paychecks were small. I knew that I wouldn't be able to support this little girl if the payments all fell on me.

Wanting to do the right thing, I went to the sign up table and told them that I was sorry, but I wouldn't be able to handle the payments and asked them to find another person take care of that child.

The worker at the table found her application and ripped it up with a harrumph. I was relieved and thanked him and went back to enjoying the concert. The main band took stage and all was right with the world, until it wasn't.

I Was a Disappointment

As I was listening to the band, one of the men from the other band singled me out and pulled me aside.

He held up the picture of the little girl from the third world country that my friends wanted to adopt and sternly spoke to me. I can't remember everything that he said, but it went something like this.

"This is so irresponsible! Every child has a sign up sheet just for them. You shouldn't have filled out one of these sheets if you couldn't take care of this kid. Now it will take over a month to send this file back and to get a new form for her. She will need to wait another month or more now to be sponsored. You need to grow up and think things through before you do them."

At this point, I'm angry crying and humiliated because I was singled out and getting yelled at by an adult I've never met before. I looked at him and I remember telling him something like this, "I didn't sign the form for this child, my friends did. They put my name down because I had a job with the intention that they would chip in and help pay for her each month. Being a RESPONSIBLE person, I thought it was better to end this now, then pledge to pay for her food each month and fall short or not pay at all because we were in over our heads."

After he heard what I had to say, he harrumphed, mumbled what I though was an apology, and walked away.

Lesson to be Learned

Sometimes, as parents, we get mad at our kids for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When that happens, our kids can feel misunderstood, angry, resentful, and even lose trust in us.

In the story above, I was placed in a situation that I didn't choose to be in. When I tried to be responsible, I was yelled at because things didn't go the way that the adult wanted it to go. I was given the chance to explain the situation and after that I was forgiven and apologized to.

I wish that it was the end of that predicament, but sixteen years later, when I hear songs on the radio from that band, I still feel hurt from that accusation. Their music is great, but it's hard for me to enjoy them because it reminds me of when I got yelled at.

That guy could have just let it go, but he got angry because something didn't go the way that he thought it would. He couldn't take joy from the other kids who were being sponsored, he focused on the one who wasn't and then took it out on a teenager.

I'm sure that after the fact, he was pretty embarrassed by his outburst and maybe even ashamed that he didn't behave in a Christian like manner. The outburst in the end didn't feel good like he had hoped.

Parenting Point

We, as parents, need to give our kids the benefit of the doubt instead of getting mad at them first.

For example: Your child is invited to a sleepover or some other party where there are many friends their age there. Because it sometimes happens, another kid brings alcohol and your child, knowing that drinking, smoking, or whatever else is breaking the rules calls you and asks you to pick them up. Then before they hang up, they hesitantly say, "Thanks, Mom! (or whoever you are) Someone brought beer."

Now you're upset. After all, these are kids that you trusted your child with and those other kids and even their parents have betrayed your trust.

So you hop into your car and you drive over to that house. You're mad and fuming when you get there. You're spitting out sentences like, "That little Jimmy is no good! I forbid you to see him again and I should call every one of their moms!" and if you're angry enough, you blame your own child. "I can't believe you went to that party. I bet you knew this was going to happen," and if you're still enraged, you may even say, "You're grounded."

Maybe your child is patient and understanding or maybe your child is like me and they speak what's on their mind. "Mom! (or Dad!) I didn't do anything wrong! You're not fair! Next time, I won't tell you."

Just like that, you've lost their trust.

Mom or dad, your child was raised on good principles and they listened to you. You gave them some responsibility by letting them go to that party and they came out responsible. Instead of giving in to the peer pressure of drinking, smoking, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, they called you to help them get out of that situation.

You should have been relieved! You should have praised them and thanked them for being so great.

Instead, you blamed them for something that someone else did. Your child responded well and called you because they trusted you to help and it backfired on them.

When we constantly speak and react first before we think things through, we slowly chip away the trust that our kids have with us. This is when they start to do things anyways because it won't matter what they do, they'll know that they'll get blamed.

Call to Action

Practice breathing. Things are going to happen that are out of control. Instead of reacting so quickly, take a breath and remember that your child came to you for help.

If you have younger kids, things are going to inevitably happen, especially if you have strong willed, creative, imaginative, playful children. 

I recently saw a post from a mother who's daughter accidentally put a hole through the dry wall when playing. Her daughter came to her crying. She wasn't crying so much for the pain as she was from the shame she felt at having to deliver the bad news.

The mom had a great response to the situation. Instead of yelling at her daughter, she hugged her and told her it was ok. What had happened was an accident and she was proud of her for coming to her to let her know instead of trying to cover up the incident and having the mom find out a different way.

You better believe that her daughter will come to her mom for things from now on because she knew that her mom would listen and help instead of yell and belittle her. 

If something bad happens, wait to react. I've been guilty at overreacting and when that happens, it's when I see my kids start to take matters into their own hands by handling their situations themselves and the way that they handle it is also by overreacting. If we take time to model a better reaction, our kids will hopefully make better choices and we will, hopefully, always be in the know how. 

Last, try to look at things from your child's perspective. When we do that, we can relate to why they did something a certain way. We can work with the situation in a better, smarter way that works for all who are involved in it. Things won't get done hastily, leaving room for doubts, insecurities, and major flaws.


We love our children and sometimes the way that we react can cause them to wonder if we do. We want these moments to be learning moments that help build our relationships on a solid foundation. If we do mess up, try to repair the damage before there becomes a structural problem. Explain why we might have blown up. Use words like, "I was scared", or "I overreacted", and if need be, apologize! 

It's good for our children to see that can make mistakes and own up to them. It teaches them to take responsibility for their own actions and not to blame others for their mistakes and also teaches them to fix their own problems. Good communication will lead to trust and with that will come easier teachable moments and respect all around.

Let's be parents that build our children up instead of breaking them down.

1 comment:

  1. Parenting or child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the intricacies of raising a child and not exclusively for a biological relationship. The most common caretaker in parenting is the father or mother, or both, the biological parent(s) of the child in question, although a surrogate may be an older sibling, a grandparent, a legal guardian, aunt, uncle, or another family member, or a family friend. Governments and society may also have a role in child-rearing.


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Hello! My name is Brittany and I'm a writer, obviously. As a stay-at-home mom, there are many things that I have to figure out in order to run a house that appears to be more sane than insane. It's not easy to be a parent and I hope that this blog is able to encourage other moms out there to live life happily and to understand that there can be mishaps along the way, but those mishaps don't define you and anything can be overcome with perseverance and will.

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