Thursday, February 9, 2012

Intentional Parenting

I tend to be a reactive parent.  I strive to be intentional.  I work hard at learning and educating my kids in the ways of the world.  But unfortunately, I succumb to the tiredness and frustration and don't have the finest parenting moments a lot of times.  Like I blow my top when the dishes are put in the sink instead of the dishwasher for the 10th time that day (come on people, it is right next to the sink!).  Or I promise myself that I am going to play with Little Man instead of letting Legos entertain him for an hour after he gets home from preschool… but I succumb to the quiet the Legos provide and then feel guilty.  Not the finest parenting moments for sure.

But, I am proud to say I had a good, intentional, teachable moment with Soccer Girl last week.  While sitting at swimming lessons for Little Man and Lizard, I asked to see her cell phone.  I routinely spot check her phone, contacts and text messages.  She is fully aware of this and often it is done in a fun way after we have talked about some particular text she told me about.  Her reaction was out of character… she said "well Mom, I deleted {insert name of boy who likes her} texts so you could not read them."  I asked why and she said, again uncharacteristically, "well there are way more things going on than you know about."  This was said in a very disrespectful tone and again VERY uncharacteristic of Soccer Girl.  I simply said "give me your phone" and I put in my purse.

I kept my mouth shut for quite awhile.  I will pause here, because this is HUGE for me.  I normal ramble on and on making my point.  But, I wisely kept my mouth shut.  After a little bit, I asked what is going on that I do not know about.  She said that {insert boy who likes her} had texted her that he "loved her."  She said it was in a joking manner over a week ago and was not a big deal.  I asked her if it was not a big deal, why did she feel the need to delete her text?  Silence.  I then went on to say that the tone in which she spoke to me is unacceptable and that what he texted her was not appropriate.  I will pause here to say this boy is a good kid, very respectful and upfront with his parents and knows Chief and I are aware of his fondness for Soccer Girl.

So we finished up swimming, showered, and stopped at the store to get a few things.  I remained silent and did not comment or reprimand.  Again, HUGE for me.  Soccer Girl knew the seriousness of what was going on since my reaction was so out of character for me.  On the way home, Soccer Girl began to cry in the seat next to me and looked out the window.  I simply rubbed her back for a few minutes and again kept my trap shut.

The whole time I am talking with myself…. how are you going to handle this one?  What is making you so mad?  Is it that this boy said I love you or that she hide the text?  Is that she was so disrespectful?  It came down to trust.  I have never questioned Soccer Girl.  She has never given us any reason to not trust her.  That was the bottom line.  I was a bit peeved at the I love you statement.  But honestly, her actions were untrustworthy and that did not sit well with me.

After getting Little Man to bed, I talked with Soccer Girl.  We talked about what our actions tell people about ourselves and what our actions say to the other person about what you think of them.  I explained her actions told me I may not be able to trust her.  We talked about with trust comes freedom.  I also told her that the manner in which she spoke to me was disrespectful and told me that she did not think I have any idea what is going on with her or kids her age.  I explained I was not mad about what he texted (although it was totally inappropriate and raises questions in our minds about him); it was the manner in which she chose to handle herself.

We went on to talk about when she is with her friends, when she does/says something OR does not do/does not say something, she is sending a message to them about her values.  She needs to convey her values, what she believes is right and wrong in everything she does.  We talked about it not being easy, even for an adult.  But it is so important that her friends know where her "line in the sand" is.  This is a phrase we have used for a long time.  We have talked about why some parents let their kids watch movies we would not let her watch…. their line in the sand is different then ours.  We have used this in reference to music or ability to do certain things… it is all based on where our line stands.  So she knows what a "line in the sand" means.  We talked about if your friends don't honor your line, they are not a true friend.  But you have to let them know what is OK and what is not OK… where you stand.

Overall, we had a really good discussion.  I think she got what I was trying to explain to her.  She is smart like that.  And, I did not ramble.  I did not drone on and on.  We had a discussion and I think I set the tone for the teen years and how important trust is in our  relationship.  At least I pray I did.