Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Man in the Mirror

My husband and I read a devotional today that prompted us to pray for challenges to come upon our children.  At first, this seemed counterintuitive.  But as we read on, we understood that our kids' character will be entirely based on how they handle life when it gets tough.  Isn't that always the toughest test of anyone's character?  We started talking about what character traits currently challenge us as we try to teach our boys to become good men and it turned out that they were all things we don't like about ourselves.

"Luke has to have things done a certain way.  It has to be his way or else he gets so frustrated," my husband said.  "True.  He has an idea and he wants it executed per his instructions.  How do you think we can get him to understand that there are a lot of ways to do things?" I asked.  We both paused a moment to think about this.  "I hate to admit this...but I was exactly the same way when I was younger.  I was incredibly bossy with my sister," I told my husband.  "Maybe it's just a trait of the oldest," my husband/youngest in his family replied.  "I sometimes want them to do things my way even now," he admitted.  "Like when they take forever to get in the car!  It makes me crazy that they keep messing around and won't just get it done!"  Then the realization hit him.  "But I don't want to have to change!" he said.

We explored that idea for a bit and I realized that I get crazy controlling about certain things (You can cook with me but don't mess up my chocolate chip cookies) and he gets crazy controlling about certain things (you can do things yourself but you'd better do it fast without any distractions).  When we feel that anxiety creeping in, I'm not sure we always handle it well.  Is our son just watching and modeling our behavior?  While I don't believe that's the entire cause - God certainly made him a perfectionist - I do believe that he can learn how to manage those emotions by watching us.  

I've heard it said that the behaviors that bother you most about other people are often your own most annoying traits.  Parenting has way of putting a mirror in front of us and challenging us to decide if we like what we see.  We can often change the reflection simply by changing ourselves.  Is that easy?  Absolutely not.  I honestly don't have a crystal clear idea of how to model a better reaction to my need to control.  But my husband and I are going to try.  Isn't that exactly what we ask him to do each and every day?  It's only fair that I expect that of myself, too.

What character traits bother you most about your children?  Are there certain things that may be a reflection of your own reactions?

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