20 Nov
2013
Posted in: parenting
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Keeping Perspective

flower perspectiveI realize, more often than I’d like, the lessons I’m teaching our children are not absorbed they way I intend. It seems lately my teaching is a little off the mark. I find myself backtracking and getting a little defensive. Case in point: breakfast this morning.

Our third grader has hypoplasia on one of his permanent bottom teeth. That tooth is noticeably discolored. Our reserved boy has been picked on several times regarding it, and he’s become increasingly self-conscious when smiling. Short story: our dentist plans on getting rid of some of the discoloration in a few weeks. This morning J was asking when exactly his dentist appointment was. Our ever-helpful oldest replied with, “Just be happy you even have teeth, right mom?”

In that moment, I realized that’s what I must sound like when I attempt to help them put their situations in perspective. The words came off as slightly snotty and condescending. Worse yet, if the way I felt when I heard B’s remark is how my kids feel when I teach “perspective”, I am assuredly not doing a good job. Just because there is something worse, doesn’t mean you can’t talk about what you have happening. Dealing with our little bumps in the road is how we gain perspective on humanity as a whole. My shoving every small glitch in our daily system to the wayside won’t teach my children about gratitude for what we have or prepare them for any massive speed bumps in the years ahead.

B’s comment led to loads of examples of things I’ve said being pelted at me: Be happy you live in a country where you can get flu shots. Be glad you have new shoes, even if they’re not the right brand. Aren’t you glad we can provide this healthy, abundant food? There are children who would love to have a brother to share a room with. In my attempts to help my children keep their ailments, gripes and worries in perspective, I am diminishing their right to feel the way they do.

Are there worse things than a discolored tooth? Most definitely. Is it the biggest problem in J’s life currently? Most definitely. I can do a better job of letting them own their problems and not sweep them a way with a comment like big brother offered up. There’s always something worse, some bigger problem you could have but thankfully, don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have difficulties and struggles. More times than not, simply vetting our problems helps us to realize our blessings in the trouble.

We’re allowed to own our personal hurdles. My job, as mom, is to help my children work through their emotions in their own obstacles, own his/her feelings and not be consumed by the situation. I don’t what these kids to think they can’t feel sad, upset, discouraged solely because it’s not the very worst scenario. I need to provide them tools to work within their own ups and downs. I really, really, really don’t like when people tell me how not to feel. There’s power in being able to vet your emotions to help validate the situation or see how ridiculous it is. My 8-year-old son has had very few crummy obstacles thrown at him. This tooth, at this moment, is a big deal. We owned those feeling together this morning.

No more broad sweeping away of gripes for this mama. We’re allowed to have problems. We’re allowed to talk about our frustrations and still realize others have greater obstacles than us.

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