From Lecturing To Understanding And Letting Go

advice/correction lens shift loving our children Jul 29, 2022

If I asked you if its ok to break into someone's office to get something you need.. you'd probably say no. Heck no. If I told you I caught an employee of mine sneaking into my office behind my back, you'd say they're not worthy of my trust.. yes?

Consider the following.

Let's say your boss gives you a task to accomplish for the week. "Your job security depends on this project," she informs you. You gulp but feel ready to dig in. "And remember..." she adds.. "It HAS to be in printed hardcopy so we can show the client. The client was particular about this." You nod. No big deal.

You spend the whole week working on this task. Now its time to turn it in tomorrow. All you have to do is print it out. You send the print command and waltz over to the office printer to pick it up. Once you get there, you realize the printer is out of ink...

You consider your options. Your own ink jet printer is out of ink. All the printer shops are closed by this time and well.. the only other working printer is locked in your boss's office. But its midnight.. she will think you're inefficient if you left such an important job to the last minute. Now what?

You secretly know where the key to your boss's office is. She always hides it in the same spot. Your boss is very very particular about no one entering her office while she's not there but... you have a job.. it needs to get done. Will you break the rules and get into her office? Will you also make sure you cover your tracks so she doesn't find out?

I'll hazard a guess and say yes. Yes, you will.

Not because you have no morals but because your focus right now is your job. Turning in that report in hardcopy... as well as keeping your actual job. In the big scheme of things, sneaking into your boss's office seems like no big deal. It's grey area at best and by far... nothing to do with morality.. yes? This doesn't mean you have poor morals.

This is one example of 'grey area' but if you thought about it, I'm sure you could come up with more. We all make choices like these and don' think much about it (how many of you can relate to the attached picture;))

Yet, when our children do shady things like 'steal' candy from the pantry, or 'hide' their brother's favorite toy or take our stuff without permission and then lie about it- we instantly jump to conclusions about their character and future. Our mind goes to that dreaded place... "If she's doing this now... what will she do when she's older?"

I'm not saying we don't do our beloved thing of "teaching our child how 'bad' stealing is" (imagine me saying that in a very bored tone like how kids' faces look when they know a lecture is incoming) but what I'm suggesting is that we don't go to THAT place (see last paragraph) and we remind ourselves of the grey area things we do because we're so focused on the end result.

Kids' have certain jobs (like exploring) and needs too. Their main focus in their childhood, is to do those jobs and have their needs met. Sometimes they lie, steal, hide, hurt and hustle to accomplish what they need to accomplish. It doesn't, in and of itself, mean anything other than what it is- an attempt to explore or have a need met. (Obviously if any of these behavior are intense and escalating- we'd wanna investigate deeper).

Now, what do I mean by having a need met? Self-preservation is one need, right? And why kids lie when we ask them, "WHO DID THIS?!" I mean frankly, who in their right mind would say yes to that? haha

But let's consider another example...

Let's say you have a teen who's been raised in mainstream parenting... that means lots of DMBD (daant+maar+baizti+dhamki or scolding, shaming, threats etc.)- as a result probably around age 12ish, he started to shut down and wasn't communicating much with anyone in the family. However, he, like any other human, DOES have a need to connect with other human beings. That is not lost. So he plays a lot of video games where he connects with people online. Or where he feels good about himself because he's good at it and other plays admire him (the need for acceptance and belonging is being met).

So if we try to take his video games away without first addressing his unmet needs- guess what he will do? Lie and sneak about video games. And in the mean time, we'd be making the problem even worse if now started labeling him a liar and sneak for trying to get his needs met in the best way he knows how. This is why I say ALL kids are kids- even teens. Because ALL behavior is an attempt to get something they need for survival.

Also, not to discount but sometimes kids lie and sneak because its part of being human. I mean their entire childhood and teen hood can't be filled with angelic deeds only- they'll do some shady stuff and try to hide it for no particular reason. Everyone is allowed to have some secrets. Don't you? Is there anyone in the world who knows your EVERY TINY secret? Probably not. And that's ok. Like I said, everyone is allowed to hide some stuff.. its probably not hurting anyone and is just "a thing" you like to keep to yourself.

To sum it up, before jumping to conclusions and THAT place (see above)- take a deep breath, reflect, think, let it go, think some more, let it go, think some more, breathe some more, come back from THAT place, let it go.. and if all else fails... do your beloved thing.. yes, the lecture. Go on, do it... it won't change much but it'll make you feel like you did something.. like a good parent ;)