One of the things my husband and I enjoy presenting at our marriage seminars is the fact that the differences men and women find fascinating about each other at the beginning can become frustrations after they are married – but there’s hope! We teach people how to reignite understanding their spouse and give them tools to turn those frustrations back into fascination about the person they love!
The funny thing about these principles, and many others, is that they can be applied to many relationships, not just marriages. So we found ourselves having yet another discussion with the oldest regarding the youngest of our offspring. Here is the scenario.
Greta was told to wash her hands before handling a book. She went to the kitchen sink that was full of the dishes I had just used to make breakfast, instead of either of the other two sinks in the house that were completely free. Michael was dumbfounded. Why would she choose the most difficult sink to wash her hands in? That’s easy. For Greta, she just wanted it done so she could move on to the next thing and the kitchen sink was the closest to her. She went for it.
After discussing it further, we came to the crux of the perspective problem between the two of them. Michael finds it unthinkable that someone could care so little about a situation. We then assured him that it was equally unthinkable to Greta that someone would care so much!
We interact with other people on a daily basis and perhaps we even judge them because of something they have done that we find unthinkable! But we must bear in mind that the unthinkable is molded by our perspective. Let’s give others some grace that their perspective may be different than ours and therefore their actions may not be as unthinkable as previously thought.
One of the principles we’ve learned over the years in our experiment with this thing called parenting is to pick our battles. There may be a hundred things you wish your children would do differently, but in the end, there are just a handful of things that you would really invest all of your parenting resources into that you might correct them.
Greta made it easy for us this morning. Her defiance and the fire in her eyes as well as the attitude that seemed to resound with every inch of her, from her hair to her toenails, made it quite clear. This is a hill to die on. With how strong willed she is, this is going to be a serious battle.
Greta didn’t want to admit she was wrong. She struggles to admit when she is wrong. In her defense, the control part of her fun/control personality makes this difficult. Just as some folks have trouble speaking in public or being patient enough to pay attention to endless tiny details, control country personalities (with a touch of perfect) can really struggle with admitting they are wrong.
When we told Greta that we had observed the incident ourselves and saw that she was wrong and needed to admit it, she challenged us. Why should I? At the moment I felt like I was the smallest horse rancher ever facing the largest herd of wild mustangs bent on staying wild. The stubbornness that exuded from her could build an insurmountable wall to rival the Great Wall of China. Oh yes! This was an issue we had to meet head on.
It isn’t easy explaining to a 10 year old lives for the moment girl that conquering her inability to admit wrong now will serve her for the rest of her life. I have a feeling that this issue will return for many more conversations. Things that seemed to be issues yesterday now pale in comparison. But Greta’s personality has set her up to be a great leader. If she can conquer this hurdle – admitting when she is wrong – she will be a beloved leader and not an arbitrary tyrant. The world needs great leaders. Greta is fearless. The world needs fearless leaders like Greta. We are currently accepting any and all prayers on our behalf as we tackle this challenge. God help us. He created Greta this way and He has great plans for her life. He must have much faith in us that we can raise her to be the great leader He had envisioned.
My husband organized a trip for young people from our church to go to an International conference for youth and young adults. There were many amazing experiences at Generation Youth for Christ, but more than the amazing meetings and meeting people from all over the world – there was the trip itself.
Personalities not previously seen finally become known after nine people travel 14 plus hours in a van that is packed full. One way.
Traveling back home to East Texas from not so sunny Orlando, Florida, was with the knowledge learned about the personalities of traveling companions. It changed everything. We had learned about each others’ strengths as well as idiosyncrasies. We knew what to expect of each other and how to make it work better – and where firm boundaries needed to be drawn.
GYC was an incredible experience and I’m so glad that it happens again in 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. But I learned just as much on the trip itself.
Personality. My daughter has it. In fact, she has so much personality she has little time for things like cleaning her room on her own. Personality people love group activities and let’s face it: cleaning your own room isn’t a group activity. Greta loves to help in groups and will be the first to volunteer and she’s great at cheering on the team. That’s why we love personality people.
But her room is still a mess and the boys don’t wan to make it a group activity that Greta will love and help their little sister out. So we bribe them. Matthew is paid to work in the room for a while. Greta is thrilled to have company on doing a chore and the room gets cleaned. We gloss over the arguments and chalk them up to simple sibling rivalry.
The next morning, Greta came out with a huge smile and one of her recently rediscovered treasures, found deep in the recesses of her previously hideous closet. It was an envelope full of homemade cards from the kids at her school – from when she was in the hospital. She came out waving the envelope and shouting to the world:
See mommy, people do love and care about me.
Of course I responded that I never had any doubt and smiled, and tried not to cry, as Greta read card after homemade card from different schoolmates expressing that she get well soon and how much they loved and missed her. It’s been two years since our lives changed and ADEM came to our home, but those words of love and encouragement still found loving reception in Greta’s heart, and mine.
I told my class at church – I wish everyone could go clean their closet and find an envelope full of the love and encouragement folks have given them when they went through a difficult time – and remember that people still love and care about them. Go ahead, right now. Go clean out the closet of your memories. Don’t dwell on the obstacles and hurts. Remember the love and support of those who stood by you and perhaps even carried you through that time. Like Greta, hold those precious memories high and say to yourself that it’s true! People still love and care about me!
My personal opinion: unless all of your children have the exact same gender and personality – there is no way you can treat your children the same. You may try, but the children will suffer because you aren’t meeting their specific needs. Is it easy? How many ways can I say NO!
Greta would gladly give everything in her lunch just to have the admiration of her friends. If she eats her lunch, she only eats enough until her desire to play at recess takes over. She would rather not ride her bike in a bike-a-thon and walk beside a friend with a broken chain than go on without the friend. Greta’s world revolves around friends. The boys don’t have that personality. Greta’s lunch has been an issue that we even had to bring up to the teacher. Please don’t let her give away everything in her lunch. She comes home starved. We had to assure Greta that true friends would still be true friends even if she didn’t give them cool things from her lunch. If they are hungry, by all means share and let the teacher know that there is a child with no lunch.
We came up with a simple guideline to help Greta. Pack at least 5 things in your lunch and try to eat your entire lunch. Leave nothing behind. Don’t give it away. Don’t trade wholesome stuff for junk food. Today, Greta saw Matthew with only 4 things in his lunch. She cried unfair. How come he only has 4 things in his lunch. Isn’t he supposed to have 5 things? That guideline was never given to Matthew, because it wasn’t necessary for him.
Greta got tangled up in the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. She focused on checking off her list, do I have 5 things in my lunch, instead of the fact that her parents love her very much and want to make sure that she has a nutritious lunch that will help her finish out the day at school.
This is nothing new. Jesus ran into the same problem. He dealt with a bunch of folks more concerned with checking items off of the list than getting to the heart of the matter. They couldn’t see that God created us to have abundant lives and that’s exactly what He wants for us. He gives guidelines to help us get to that understanding.
Greta is off to school and I will pray that God gives us guidance on how to communicate to this ADEM child that the real issue is we love her and want her to have a nutritious lunch that will benefit her.
Greta is all about friends and fun. Things that take too long or get in the way don’t get much attention from her. The challenge: inspire her to pick a science fair project and follow through with it.
It’s possible. We have to find colorful and fun projects! I’m glad she has the freedom to choose a project that suits her.
My dream: a world where an individual’s personality is seen as an asset and life work matched up appropriately. Might as well dream big!!