Browse around your Facebook feed, your Twitter feed or countless mommy blogs, and you’ll see quite a few parents trying to gain your sympathies for the many problems and plights they face as parents. Work sucks, you had to get up early, such-and-such about your sex life, your work pants mysteriously smell like baby vomit, etc.
Like many, I think we’re used to seeing our parenting problems from our own viewpoint — what our own problems are. However, read & think about this quote for a second:
“What does have a workability is simply to try to be the child’s friend. It is certainly true that a child needs friends. Try to find out what a child’s problem is and, without crushing their own solutions, try to help solve them. Observe them – and this applies even to babies. Listen to what children tell you about their lives. Let them help – if you don’t they become overwhelmed with a sense of obligation which they then must repress.” – L. Ron Hubbard, from The Way to Happiness, precept entitled Love and Help Children
When was the last time you sat down with your kids, and really got to know what their problems are? I know a lot of folks try to approach parenting like a crotchety college professor might approach a student. “You don’t even know what your problems are – so just listen to what I’m telling you.” But it’s interesting to see how many parenting doors open when you really get into the child’s universe and find out what they’re trying to do and not just what you’re trying to do.
My kids are 17 months apart. My daughter (the older one) loves to play with her brother – and especially loves her wooden train tracks set. One of her big problems, though, is being able to sit with him and play, without having her master plans for railroad domination thwarted by his still-developing sharing skills. Sitting with her & talking with her about this made this pretty clear. Easy solution – get a few more sets of cheapo tracks so that their railroad can span the play room. Now, problem is solved, and all of the sudden they can play for hours, on their own, with nearly zero supervision.
Win for her, and win for me – as now I get another hour to myself to do housework.
I look forward in a big way, being able to apply this same quote to my kids as they deal with the other challenges they’ll face growing up – nasty schoolmates, trying to make the soccer team, homework, boyfriends, etc, etc. It’ll be fun, or heartwrenching as the case may be. But at least they’ll always know they have my wife & I as their friends.