I've been noticing a thing that most parents seem to do - a thing that we don't think of as a big deal - but a thing that can cause enormous rifts in our relationships with our children.
The thing is not following through. On plans, promises, time limits, boundaries, protection - the list goes on, and it's something that is truly a big deal.
My parents were pretty good at follow-through. They're planners by nature, and so when they said they were going to do something, it's likely they did it. Me? I like to plan, but I've been seeing this issue in my life with my kids.
Their plans aren't as important.
Three days ago I told my daughter that we would go to the beach and look for fossils.
The first day, her brother didn't want to go, he wanted to chill out and rest up from UWG, so we did that. The second day, we had to have a family meeting about an important issue, and again, we didn't go to the beach. Today, we had homeschool group and Jonah really wanted to go. I said maybe we would stop by the beach on our way home, but everyone was tired and it was 95 degrees outside, so we headed home.
The first day, she was SO excited about going to the beach to look for fossils. She couldn't wait to don her bathing suit and grab her bucket and sifter and shovel and wade into the water. She cried when I told her we weren't going, that I was sorry.
The second day, she was disappointed. She mentioned the beach several times. She whined about not going. She pouted. We didn't go. I apologized again. It meant less.
Today she hasn't mentioned the beach at all. I mentioned maybe we would go after the homeschool meet-up.
As we drove home from our homeschool meet-up she simply said she was tired, and looked vacantly out of the window. No mention of the promised beach excursion - because she had given up.
In the past I saw this giving up as the kid just forgetting about it - moving on with life - it wasn't that important, but today this realization hit me like an anvil from the sky.
When we got home, my daughter asked me if I could please make chocolate chip muffins. I told her I didn't have the time right this second, but I would make them tonight. She burst into tears, "Please, PLEASE, Mommy, make the chocolate chip muffins now, PLEASE!"
Really? The muffins are that big of a deal? She can't wait a few hours for the muffins?
And then I realized... she doesn't trust me.
I don't follow through on things that are important to her because I have my own agenda. And you know what? She's right.
Most likely, as tonight wore on, I would have forgotten about those muffins. It's not a big deal to me.
I realize that we treat our children this way much of the time. Their opinions only matter when they back us up or don't shift our paradigm, the events they're interested in are only important to us if we deem them educational enough or interesting enough to bother with them, simple requests we toss aside because we're just too busy or too lazy or too important to answer or bother.
I really don't have time to make the muffins before my husband comes home for dinner, but I WILL make those muffins tonight when I get home from my meeting. I don't care how tired I am or how late it is. Because this is something that is important to HER. And it should be important to ME too.