20 January 2011

Filters & Gardens

One of things I teach my 2nd graders is to use "I-statements". They are developmentally ready to cognitively process the idea that "I-statements" are much stronger than "You ______________." I give them this visual: when we go around, speaking to others with the "You did ________ to me!" or "You always ______________ me!", it is like taking my finger and pointing it at them. I ask them to think of their friends as mirrors. We talk about how the entire function of a mirror is simply to reflect. And when my big "you-finger" is pointing into that mirror, it is really just pointing right back at me! Instead, we practice making I-statements such as "I feel sad when you cut me in line because that is rude." or "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings when I called you 'stupid'."

These two chapters were like mirrors. Mirrors that reflected there are times when I am most definitely using my you-finger rather than my I-statement. Nothing like eating my own words, eh?!

But I'm so grateful. I'm grateful because I have a chance to change my behaviors. More than that, it is my responsibility to do so. Here's a few thoughts about Chapters Two and Three:

Truth matters. Realizing that my interpretation of truth depends on my belief about what I can control is vital. I am inevitably going to have my mom and dad's voice in my head. I am always going to remember how it felt to be a child in their home. But my responsibility is take the initiative to control myself and thus create the environment I want my children to have, not just a reincarnation of what I experienced. "The ability to manage yourself and your children towards the goals that you have in being a parent rests in the ability to tell yourself what to do and do it no matter what they've done or are doing." (p. 80) I wrote in the margins of Chapter Two, "Knowing how I want to respond and doing it are two separate entities at times!". In other words, my filter better be working at all times. Sometimes I just need to zip it and think!

My children are my garden. I have 3 goals for them:
1) to have healthy relationships;
2) to be able to set healthy limits for themselves; and
3) to value a strong connection with their parents and siblings.

Thus, I have 3 goals don't I?!

1) I will act and react in a healthy way, despite their behavior and choices.
2) I will model healthy limits for self, as well as give them healthy choices and consequences from which to choose.
3) I will highly value my connection to them physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

The practical piece Silk recommends (and that I plan to begin to implement immediately!) is fall-back phrases; a few default responses I can use when they have hit my disrespect button or are demanding my attention by performing negatively. (And believe-you-me, I need these!) Nothings gets my blood pumping faster than disrespect.

I know.
I don't know.
Probably so.
Oh no!
No problem.
That could be.
Nice try.

I'm picturing these phrases as compost for my 'garden'. I am willing to take a risk on this fertilizer as a means for which my home will have even greater peace and joy and self-control and love. Gal 5:22, 23