Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Welcoming a challenge

Yet another difficult evening.

A few months ago, I would get my son to bed. It was so easy: he expected daddy to tell him a story, and then lie down next to him. And then I stopped doing it for a while and just as easily, his habits changed. Today I had to get him to bed because my wife was busy.

So we start at the appointed hour, and he follows along. He is glad that daddy is with him. We brush his teeth, he hears a story. He is having a great time: smiling and laughing. Things look great.

Then we walk to the bedroom, and all hell breaks loose. He remembers that mommy does this step, and today mommy isn't nearby. It starts: crying, misery, unhappiness, feeling of missing mommy.

I could tell you how I fixed it, but that is not the important part. The important part is that we stuck it together. We trusted each other, and neither forced the other. In the end, he asked me to get him to sleep. He went to sleep happy. And we cemented our bond as father and son.

A few days ago, I wrote about parenting being difficult. Sometimes parenting requires a mental shift. The shift is to realize that difficult times are opportunities. And perhaps tantrums are parents' fault as much as the child's. And that misery and unhappiness have a root cause, which should be addressed with love and affection.

Children don't lack discipline: they act according to the rules that they perceive. Saying that "a child is misbehaving" misses the real story. The child is behaving in conformance to previous rules. Either the previous rules are wrong, or you haven't told the child that their behavior was incorrect. A difficult time is an ideal situation to identify and resolve such issues.

A healthy attitude is to expect the worst, with open arms. How bad can things get? At the least, you will learn about your child and gain some experience.

(Image, courtesy Dad Centric)