Friday, January 15, 2010

Parent Tip #1 or "I Have a Kind Heart."

I don't consider myself to be a great parent. I've been at it for a while and work on being better, and I have improved over time. I truly feel sorry for my daughter because I believe wholeheartedly that children are like pancakes (wait for it). But when I find something that strikes a chord in me, I think it makes sense to share it.

Only mostly completely unrelated, back in the fall our music pastor had a "retreat" for the members of the choir and orchestra. Our speaker, a man by the name of Stan Endicott, was funny and enthusiastic and I took to heart many of the things he said. Definitely musically, but he told a few stories that really had more to do with his grandkids than music. I really think grandparents make better parents than parents because they've made all the mistakes and understand how short time is, so they have more patience.

Anyway, Stan told a story about a time when his grandson was being unkind to his grandma. Stan took matters into his own hands, he talked to his grandson about being kind to grandma. He taught his then 3 year old grandson to say, "I have [holding up an index finger] a kind heart [touching heart with index finger]." and made him repeat it several times. A few days later, in grandma's presence, Grandpa Stan held up his index finger then touched his heart. And, grandson said, "Grandma, I have a kind heart."

I love that story!

I doubt Stan is a parenting expert, but according to the parenting class we took last year, the way to teach virtues is to, well, teach virtues. Instead of telling a child not to lie, you teach them what Truth is. Instead of telling a child not to be mean, you teach them to be kind. Instead of telling a child not to take toys away, you teach them about sharing or giving.

Things in my house have gotten more kind since last fall. I came home from retreat an implemented what Stan taught me immediately. "I have a kind heart." When one of my children (even especially the big ones) are unkind I stop them, I hold up my finger and say, "I have...", touch my heart ..."a kind heart." They repeat it until they say it with sincerity. I admit, it looks and sounds ridiculous. But, in reality, it stops them from being unkind and makes them think about what it means to have a kind heart. It's hard to see a change in the daily in and out of our lives because change is so gradual, but things have definitely changed.

The other day I decided it was time to teach little Izaak. At 2 1/2 he has some speech delays, but he's getting there. I can tell you it melts every heart in the house to see and hear him say, "Iave... dind... hawt."

Thank you Stan!

Here it is. The first pancake never turns out quite right.