I've heard from many that the baby of the family is always the baby. Looking at my fourth and final child who is now four, I am beginning to understand what is meant by that. My expectations for her are lower than they were for my other four year olds. The child still doesn't dress herself, or buckle her seat belt or squeeze her own toothpaste. She throws a fit almost everytime she is denied her wish. (she throws a lot of fits - we don't always give in) They say the first step to recovery is admitting the problem. So, I admit it, we baby our baby and we need to help her grow up. Not to mention, her attitude is becoming increasingly unpleasant. For a child with a naturally sweet and caring disposition, it is obvious that our 'babying' her is not bringing out the best in her as a person.
So, yesterday during our school time, she was becoming increasingly unpleasant. "No, you can't play with my iphone, you need to listen to the story. No, you may not stand over there, you need to have a seat with the family." Etc, etc... After the third or fourth meltdown, I send her to her room to have some time to calm down and return to being kind. Then, the thuds begin. The thud, thud, thud of little feet kicking the wall in frustration. At this point, I am feeling nothing but frustration and anger in my heart. I am not seeing this child as a person who needs me to help her grow up, I am seeing her as an annoying distraction to my day.
Whoa - hold on, I know better than that. Quickly, I ask the Lord for help to bring out the best in my little girl. And, as quickly as that, He guides me.
I walk into the room and see a little girl banging on the wall, with a face full of anger and I say sweetly, "Can we talk now?" As I sit next to her on her bed, she perks up and leans her little head on my chest, already sensing that I have come as an ally. I asked her, "How do you feel when someone tells you No?" She thought about it for a moment and replied that it made her mad. "You wanna know something, sometimes I feel mad when someone tells me no, too. (little eyes are looking at me now) But, part of growing up is learning how to behave the right way even when someone tells us no. How do you think you should behave when someone tells you know? (shrugs little shoulders) Should you say, "aaaahhh, but I WANT it?" (bursts into giggles) Was that the right way to respond? Okay, okay, let me try again..." We role play for awhile, taking turns to be the one who asks. Silliness ensues, but the lesson is learned.
She is learning how to handle disappointment. But, I am learning, too. I am learning that godly parenting involves empathy and seeing my child as a person. It involves prayer, thoughtfulness, and time. I am so thankful for the one who shares my burdens and guides me daily.