You know when you have one of those 'AH HA!' momments. After many years you figure something out and you wonder why the heck it took you so long. I've had one of those momments recently, and now I am seeing my lesson pop up in the lives of my friends. So I'm taking it as an opportunity to share.
A very wise lady once told me that the traits and attributes you want your children to have as adults, are not the traits that you want them to have as kids. With a now 2 year old at home I understand all too clearly what she meant. Demi has a strong character, but it is often difficult to foster her independence (which of course we want her to have as an adult) while she's telling us that she wants to clean up the spilled milk or she doesn't want to nap. So here we are on a very slippery slope.
The lesson that I learned recently came, in large part, due to my mother, although she didn't teach it to me per say. We, as parents, usually see the lessons going one way, but really these lessons are happening all the time. Let's say you're at work. You and your co-worker are working on a project together. Something goes wrong and your co-worker blows up and takes it out on you. Let's say you just let the issue go. You go home vent to your spouse, come to work the next morning and even though you're still ticked off you don't say anything. What do you think is going to happen the next time that co-worker gets angry about something? They're not going to think twice about yelling at you.
Now let's say you come in the next morning and you talk to that co-worker and say something like "I know you were pissed off, but there was no reason to yell AT me." The next time that co-worker gets pissed about something, I'm going to guess that they'd think twice before they started yelling at you. (This of course is excluding the possibility that your co-worker is a jerk with an anger issue. lol)
In effect what you have done is taught this person what behavior is acceptable to you. Either, ya sure, go ahead and yell at me. Or, no, it is not acceptable for you to take your anger out at me. I think this lesson is a particularly difficult one to learn when it comes to your parents. For years these have been the authoratative people in your life. "This is just the way they are". But at some point in time if the behavior truly is detrimental to your life, or sanity, then you need to take a step up and say "THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE". I can only assume how difficult it is for the parent to then have to change their ways after being able to do what they please for so long.
Now that I've had this "Ah Ha!" momment, I've been looking at how I come across to Demi. Am I teaching her that I am an attentive parent? Am I loving? Am I caring? Can I admit when I'm wrong (oh, and this one is HARD! Apologizing to a 2 year old!) But these are the important traits that I want her to have when she grows up. It's ok to admit when you were wrong, it's ok to get angry, it's ok to be a little selfish sometimes, because if these things happen it's ok to say sorry.
All of this has translated over to my relationship with K too. Demi is going to learn what behavior is ok in a relationship. It's both a great thing and a horrible thing that we let the people we love get away with a lot more than somebody we don't know. I have much too often taken K for granted, or yelled at him because I knew that he loves me, and he will forgive me. I'm now looking much more closely at how we interact, how I treat him, and how I allow him to treat me. These are very subtle things at times.
Here's my challenge to you for the rest of the week. How do you allow people to treat you and how do you treat others? Look at the important ones and choose your battles wisely. Put the shoe on the other foot, how would you feel if somebody mirrored your behavior to them?
Self help guru