12 June 2014

Listen to Lead

Do you ever listen to your kids? I mean actually really listen to them? Or do you just assume the worst and react to them? And then catch yourself later and have one of those, "Aw, man, I'm such a jerk!" moments like I just had?

Little Man had passed out during supper and was already tucked snuggly in bed for the night. Princess was sitting on my bed reading to me when Little Man woke up and came stumbling into our room looking for Mommy. He settled for me and crawled up into bed and forced his way between his sister and I and then burrowed in and got comfy. Of course, sibling rivalry being what it is, Princess had to try to lay down beside me as well. I soon started to hear, "he's kicking me!" interspersed through the lines of Frozen.

Now, in my defense, it's been a long day. I've been hearing this since they woke up. And I had my fill. So I simply told the boy to stop kicking or I'd put him on the floor till his Mommy got home. It kept up and so I scolded him again and started to put him out of the bed, but decided to let him go with one more warning. That's when his sister jumped out of bed and ran to see if Mommy was home and he turned toward me and began to squeeze his ice cold little get under my back.

Doh! I'm such a jerk. It didn't even occur to me that the boy wasn't kicking his sister, but trying to warm up.
And then, to drum in the lesson, I read this line in Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army, a book my Outreach Pastor has asked my fellow community assistance volunteers and I to read - "Lead by listening." Aw! That's just rubbing my nose in it.

What the author is writing of is, of course, a multi-billion dollar organization spanning the globe, which is slightly different from my little suburban two story. But as a father, struggling to rear my children in a Christ-like way, the leadership philosophies espoused in the book are very close, in many ways, to my ideal of fatherhood. And I was in no way listening to lead. I just assumed the worst and jumped on him.
I've been trying very hard to be less authoritarian with the kids lately,but I've sure been missing the mark alot.  It's difficult, since it's something I'm having to learn for the first time. My family was never big on open communications, and kids were expected to stay out of the way and mind their manners. 'Nuff said there. I've definitely been very indulgent with the kids, but I have a long way to go when it comes to communication.

So, from the halls of global organizations, to the bedrooms and nurseries of suburban Texas, I say. On with the parenting tips!