Monday, July 17, 2017

Miracles | (Someone Special)

This is who we are.

Cause + Effect | I learned it from you! OK?

The line between actions and consequences is severely blurred for a lot of kids because, by and large, they don’t understand the general principle of cause and effect.

    They don’t understand cause and effect because the adults in their lives constantly come behind them to fix things when they screw up.

    This problem is complicated by idle threats and equally idle promises.

    An example: The promise, If you’ll be good boy (whatever that means) at the store, I’ll buy you a treat, is easily lost in the excuse: It’s too close to dinner; you’ll spoil your appetite.

    Not fair! Sure, we have to be concerned for a kid’s nutritional well-being. So we’d better take care to not make idle promises in exchange for compliant behavior.

    All right, that’s it! One more word out of you and we’re going straight home!

    Really? You’re going to load everybody back onto the bus and go straight home? I’m not saying you shouldn’t do exactly that if it fits the situation. But please don’t threaten to do it if you know you can’t live with the consequences of following through.

    If I say: Stop nagging! You kids are killing me! I should have the decency to die the next time one of them nags. Otherwise, it’s just an idle promise.

    More to the point, our children falter in learning the connection between cause and effect when, not wanting them to experience pain, many of us are quick to rescue them from the consequences of their failures and wrongdoing.

    When they’re young we easily replace a toy carelessly lost or broken in anger and shield them from the cost of their actions. Time passes and we drop what we’re doing to deliver an item thoughtlessly left behind so a middle-schooler won’t suffer a loss of face or miss a meal or fail to turn in a paper on time. Still later, we cover a negligently overdrawn checking account or pay a traffic ticket and insurance increase resulting from a moving violation, or hire a lawyer to rescue our beloved failure from a ruined life.

    And they resent us for it. Maybe not in the moment, but soon and forever until we make things right.

— from Raising Adults by Jim Hancock




Sunday, July 16, 2017

in-betweenness | this is who we are

Not fully child, not fully adult....
Adolescents can [glimpse their in-betweenness] by looking in the full-length mirror on back of the bathroom door. The opaque glance and the pimples. The fancy new nakedness they're all dressed up in with no place to go. The eyes full of secrets they have a strong hunch everybody is on to. The shadowed brow. Being not quite a child and not quite a grown-up either is hard work, and they look it. Living in two worlds at once is no picnic.  One of the worlds, of course, is innocence, self-forgetfulness, openness, playing for fun. The other is experience, self-consciousness, guardedness, playing for keeps. Some of us go on straddling them both for years.
We become fully and undividedly human, I suppose, when we discover that the ultimate prudence is a kind of holy recklessness, and our passion for having finds peace in our passion for giving, and playing for keeps is itself the greatest fun. Once this has happened and our adolescence is behind us at last, the delight of the child and the sagacity of the Supreme Court justice are largely indistinguishable. 
– Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark,  p. 2

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

For His Own Good | Hijacking

Hijacking begins with the conviction that I know you better than you know yourself. I feel certain nothing could make you happier than thinking I believe that.
    This is what an awful lot of adults (and not just a lot of awful adults) regularly do to the kids in their lives. Come to think of it, adults do it to each other all the time and I don’t know anyone—adult or child—who enjoys it even a little bit.
    Hijackers assume kids will end up in the wrong place, or at least try to get there a different way than the adult would—which of course makes it the wrong way. No matter how mature the youngster actually may be, she will feel childish at the hands of the Hijacker.
    “Do you have your lunch money?” is an insult on the lips of a Hijacker because it means I’m pretty sure that left to your own devices you’d starve. Remember that time you forgot your lunch money? You were hungry weren’t you? I wouldn’t want to let you make that mistake again. There’s very little chance the child will be hungry at the end of this exchange as she’s probably had about all she can stomach.
    Most adults mean no harm when they Hijack. The goal after all is to head off undesirable consequences. But Hijackers do considerable harm to their relationships and the self-esteem of those they care for. The underlying message of Hijacking is:
You’re helpless without me. You need me for the most trivial matters. I’m saying this for your own good. You’d lose your mind if I didn’t hand it to you on the way out the door every morning. Never forget that. And, honey, have a good day. 
    Hijacking fosters dependence instead of encouraging intelligent independence. Right through adolescence, Hijacker insists on looking after details like what to wear, what to eat, how to study, when to sleep and wake, how specifically to get from point A to point B. Then, should the child makes the mistake of relinquishing control in any of these areas Hijackers blame them for not looking after the little things any fool can accomplish in his sleep. It’s a dirty business, Hijacking. 
    You don’t understand! It’s for his own good!
    Blah, blah, blah.
    No, really; he’d forget his head if it wasn’t attached!
    Not more than once.