Parent Education…from Our Kids
Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince)
Watching my son mature into a man is a joy-filled experience. It’s also making me quite reminiscent. I remember, for instance, when he taught me a better way to parent.
It was early on, when we were training him to sleep the whole night in his room. After I told him he needs to sleep in his own bed “because that’s what big boys do,” he explained that such reasoning is actually counterproductive. “That just sounds like you’re trying to embarrass me, Dad, and it doesn’t make me feel good.”
Ouch. That was hard to hear. Especially considering that I thought using the “big boy” reasoning would compel him to feel good enough about himself to conquer his fears about nighttime. But he was right; I was trying to manipulate him by using a seemingly clever technique.
Whenever we think of our kids as creatures to be tamed and trained, we slip into technique-mode. We try to use whatever manipulation we can think of to get them to do…whatever we need them to do. But then we miss out on the truest joy, and truest purpose of parenting. It’s when we approach our kids as separate human beings—capable of decisions, thoughts, and yes, instructions—that we get to experience a true relationship with them.
And that means, sometimes, we get to learn from them.