Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here's an Issue, Just For You

They are going to have them, no matter how hard we try to keep it from happening. Our children will grow into adults who have...issues.

Most of us try to find opportunities to teach life lessons to our children. Depending on our parenting styles and their learning styles, we teach these lessons through lectures, consequences, punishments, humor, whatever works, right?

My sister once gathered up all the stuff her children continued to leave in the entry way and placed it on the driveway by the trash bins on garbage day. It didn't take long for the little rascals to inquire. She explained that they could either get and put it away or the garbage would haul it away. Then she walked away. As I recall, the lesson worked, at least for a while.

I once removed the door from the my daughter's room because she couldn't figure out how to shut it without slamming it in anger. Of course this was after several instances where I made her practice shutting the door nicely. She didn't get it, so the door had to go. When she got the door back, the slamming stopped. Score one for mom!

My neighbor once admitted to washing her son's mouth out with soap. Now, I know her son as an extremely respectful young man with a very polite mouth. And this is probably why. She warned him to clean up his language and when he didn't, she kept her promise. But since there was no bar soap available, she opened his lips and squirted in a few pumps of hand soap. Can you imagine? It makes me gag just thinking about it. But her son has a clean mouth to this day. I can't exactly say the same thing for all of my children.

Still sometimes, instead of thinking about the lessons we are teaching, I wonder about the issues we are giving.

As a mother, it's easy to pass on body issues to our daughters. Every time we complain about our thunder thighs or joke about our "fat jeans" (or "fat genes"), we potentially hand them insecurity on a platter. And when dads refuse to display an emotion in fear of appearing weak, they can easily pass on "tough guy" syndrome to their sons. When I made my 9 year old son dispose of the dead squirrel in the backyard because I'm too squeamish to handle petrified rodents, was I giving my daughters permission to use the female chromosome as an excuse not to face their fears? When I repeatedly try to convince the quiet one to talk about her feelings, am I turning her natural introverted nature into an issue?

Is my constant obsession to turn everything into a life lesson sucking the fun out of life itself?

Okay, that one, I can answer. (See previous Blog Post entitled I'm Just Saying.)

So the bottom line is that they will have issues. We can't deny that. Maybe their issues will stem from their mother callously tossing their precious belongings to the curb. Maybe the three months of no privacy because a bedroom door was removed will give them personal space issues. Maybe they will develop a phobia of hand soap because not even the strongest Scope can make them forget the taste of sudsy lilacs!

But I doubt it.

I guess in addition to creating life lessons and issuing out issues, we also need to make sure we provide road maps and tool kits. And lectures, punishments, consequences, humor and whatever works, right? Throw in a little prayer and a lot of love and I think we can all hope for and expect the best.

After all, aren't we just grown up children still dealing with our own issues?


  1. yes I did do that !!! and I am about ready to put all of my husbands dirty clothes lying next to our bed out there tomorrow!!!!~!!!

  2. I lived in terror of having my mouth washed out with soap when I was young. It happened to my brother but his potty mouth came back when he was older.

  3. I once took my daughters mattress off her bed and put it in the store room in the basement because she refused to sleep with sheets on her bed. She was just being lazy and didn't care. At the time, it seemed like a good idea.