I’m new at this re-blogging thing. Etiquitte dictates that I gife immense credit to the original blog so here it is — http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/stevens/ct-turn-kids-complaints-into-questions-balancing-0912-20160912-column.html .
Having just come from a weekend getaway, my kids complained a lot before they decided to *try* the amazing things — like floating in a mud volcano, or wave-hopping for hours on end, or enjoying very mildly spicy foods. Once they started they couldn’t stop, but I had to be the enthusiastic cruise director, constantly correcting them with “just try it!” I’ve been reading “How to talk so your kids will listen, and how to listen so your kids will talk” and the main thing I’ve learned is how often I swat away their complaints, not knowing how to deal with them. What follows is a quote from the blog above… and some beautiful wisdom. Pardon me misusing the quotes sign… bad grammar ahead!
” “What if I put a “What if …” in front of my kids’ complaints? What if I trained myself to see their complaining not as evidence of their utter lack of gratitude, but as an opportunity to offer them the reassurance they’re seeking? … My son has entered a phase that I’ll generously characterize as not my favorite, and it consists of a lot of statements that portend certain doom.
“I’ll never make a touchdown.” “I’ll never be tall.” “I’ll never lose a tooth.”
Even in my most exhausted, least charitable moments, I know those are statements of fear, not obstinateness. But when I throw a “What if …” in front of them, it reminds me to answer them like questions, rather than correct them like mistakes. It’s a subtle shift, but it’s one that moves me away from pointless frustration and toward patience, which is always useful.” ”
As a pastor, I always coached people and committees that our anxiety or worry is like one side of a coin – and the other side of that coin is excitement. For instance, a Church Council might worry about finances (ha, might?) – which produces immense anxiety over something they can’t really control. But the other side of the coin is that what you are anxious about is something that REALLY MATTERS to you, and it’s calling on you to recognize what it is about the thing (your Church spending plan) that can really excite you (fellowship? VBS? worship? helping others?). So we see in our anxiety that something really has our heart. It helps us focus on what we do want, rather than only what frightens us.
Another way of looking at it is the phrase, “can we be curious instead of furious?” With kids, their constant complaints can drive a parent mad. (“Wait, I brought you to a mud volano and you are complaining?!?”) But adding in the “what if” lets us be curious, and actually address the issue. If the kids are bringing it up, it matters to them, and me swatting it away will just create more anxiety, so more complaints, so more furor. But curiosity is one of the great gifts of humanity. It opens eyes, hearts, and doors. It makes us merciful instead of haughty. In the face of fear, it brings love. That is incredibly powerful!
So, two words: “what if.” 6 letters that just made my day.
By the way… the mud volcano was even more fun than we had imagined! The kids took this picture while safely on solid ground… but the next picture showed their bravery!