ONE SIMPLE WAY TO DECREASE YOUR CHANCES OF RAISING A BRAT
Posted by Holly Crawshaw
My husband and I just got back from taking our girls to Hilton Head, South Carolina for a long weekend. There were bike-riding adventures, hot dogs on the beach, and early bedtimes (thank you, swimming, for exhausting my children like no other activity) – a great time was had by all.
It was not all sunshine and giggles.
All the whining.
ALL THE NEEDS EVER IN THE WORLD.
What is it about staying in close-quarters that brings out the neediness in people? The most impatience in people? The most downright SQUALORYLY nature in people?
I realized, on this vacation, that if I’m not very careful, my children (Lilah, 8 and Esmae, 4) could easily become entitled brats.
No, you may not have another 74-gram-of-sugar-laden snow cone.
No, we will not be renting this movie for $18.99. We didn’t pay that much to see it in the movie theater.
No, you may not go to the pool now. We’ve been at the beach for 15 seconds, and I’m sweating like I stole something.
No, you may not purchase this $45 boogie board that we can buy at home at 5 Below.
No, you may not pout at dinner when your grilled cheese has brown on the edges of the bread.
(FURTHERMORE, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I WOULD GIVE TO BE A 5-YEAR-OLD EATING A GUILT-FREE, GOOEY GRILLED CHEESE?!)
MY KIDS ARE ALWAYS WANTING SOMETHING.
Now, this isn’t the first time this obvious tidbit of knowledge has settled uneasily on my consciousness. But it is the first time that I looked in the mirror and saw a major contributing factor . . . ME.
Newsflash: One of the main reasons my kids can act bratty is that I, myself, have a fair amount of bratty tendencies.
Of course I “mask” my entitled behavior in a far more socially-acceptable way than pouting and yanking on my mother’s skirt, but it’s there.
It’s there when I grumble under my breath (or not-so-under) when the server walks by me for the third time without acknowledging me. (I keep insisting it’d be more efficient to simply give me an IV tap of Diet Coke, but the world has yet to acquiesce . . . )
It’s there when I needlessly shift my weight from foot to foot no fewer than thirty times when I’m waiting to check out at the hotel market.
It’s there when I complain about how long it takes for the valet to bring our car around. (I cringe to write that—I mean, in a world where I have the privilege to have a car BROUGHT AROUND FOR ME . . . I am genuinely ashamed.)
I am not openly selfish or entitled. But just subtly enough. In traffic, at the grocery store, around the house. I have an underlying attitude of ‘what’s-best-for-me’ that grosses me out.
Here I am, trying to zone out and enjoy the sun and sand, and life hands me an existential crisis.
Newsflash, self: If I want my kids to grow up to be generous, patient, joy-bringing people . . .
I’M GOING TO HAVE TO BE A GENEROUS, PATIENT, JOY-BRINGING PERSON.
I didn’t grow up with a lot. My parents divorced when I was in middle school. I’ve had a job since I was 14 years old. I used scholarship money and waited tables to put myself through college. I have bounced a check. I have counted change to pay for gas. I have eaten Ramen noodles more times than I can count.
And yet—I know, relatively speaking, that I still have had many, many advantages that others are not afforded. Why can’t I live—on the surface and beneath the surface—out of that truth?
My challenge to myself this summer is live like I need nothing more. To live patiently. To live generously. I want to bring joy, wherever I go, regardless of what’s happening around me.
I want to model the behavior I expect from my girls—giving them a front row seat to a summer of gratitude and thanksgiving.
(Which would genuinely be easier with that IV tap of Diet Coke . . . but . . . I’ll manage, otherwise.)
About the Author:
Holly Crawshaw is a wife, mother, and writer who eats sour candy and laughs at her own jokes. She served on staff with North Point Ministries for six years, the latter of which was spent as Preschool Director. She and her husband, Ben, are raising their two daughters, Lilah and Esmae, in their hometown of Cumming, GA.
Posted by Brooklyn Lindsey
Imagine a parent of a child you know approaching you.
“Can (insert their child’s name) and I speak with you and (insert your child’s name) privately for a minute?”
Maybe this kind of “confrontational” conversation raises your blood pressure? I know it raises mine.
Thoughts spiral and I become anxious:
“What did my child do?”
“How will it affect them?”
“How will it affect me?”
But what if situations like this are the perfect opportunity for us to give something very valuable to our children?
What if the temporary discomfort of having a friendship conversation could lead to a lifelong ability to navigate relationships in a healthy way?
Instead of simply mediating conflict, or avoiding it, we have a chance to coach our kids in lessons of love.
My daughter Mya is all about “friendship benches”—she wrote about it in Kindergarten. She thinks every place should have one. It’s somewhere you can feel “chunterbole” (comfortable) and you don’t have to worry. There’s even a “sign on it so you know it’s there.”
As a parent, you have the opportunity to help your kids sort out their friendships by offering this kind of place where their feelings can be felt and shared. You can be a friendship coach.
So, how do you coach someone you love when they have been hurt or have hurt someone else? What do you say when there is a recurring issue that doesn’t seem to have a solution or resolve? What do you do when the “thing” that happens keeps happening?
The temptation is to remove your child from the situation.
If instead, you coach your child through the situation, they will learn how to navigate through difficult relational experiences and develop lasting friendships.
If we were looking at a map made by pirates (don’t we always?) you would see on the margins phrases like, “Here Be Dragons!” describing the places outside an intended route. It’s a place outside of the comfort zone, the place where danger waits.
Our kids are going to face some friendship dragons, but there’s nothing outside of the comfort zone that you can’t walk through together. You know they’re there, you can avoid them sometimes, but there’s also a way through it if you end up there. You have a developmental map that they don’t have yet and as a parent, you can help them navigate.
Here are a few ways to be a great friendship coach to your kids.
Depending on the phase your child is in, these ideas can become simpler or more complex.
Coach your kid to . . .
Let the relational bumps in the road be times and places for your child to grow the ability to love others as they love themselves. It will take time, intentionality, patience, and probably more coffee than you can make in one pot.
But one day, you might wake up to a child telling you that they are working through something with a friend and they have navigated to a place of healing and truth.
And that, my friends, is the win.
About the Author:
Brooklyn has been a youth pastor since 2001. She has authored numerous books and projects and is a youth pastor at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, her first priority. Second, she is a speaker who loves teaching from the Bible and leading people to live in response to God’s love. Brooklyn, while named after a city in New York, lives in the sunshine state with her husband, Coy, and their sweet girls, Kirra and Mya.