Last month, we highlighted a friend's story about a couple who loved to put jigsaw puzzles together. Recently, there was a puzzle that they had trouble putting together. No matter how hard they worked, the picture that was emerging did not match the one on the puzzle box. Then they realized that the puzzle pieces would never match the picture on the box. The puzzle pieces were in the wrong box!
The illustration above was used to illustrate how many of us have a different or unrealistic perspective for what is on our marriage box top. This story is also a good analogy for parenting. Each of us may have a picture in our mind as to what parenting should be but later discover that what we imagine is not necessarily true.
No matter how hard we work to put the pieces together, they don't seem to match what we envisioned to be on the parenting box top. Our picture on our parenting box top has been shaped by our imagination, by our expectations, by how our parents modeled parenting, and by the media.
When it comes to parenting, many of us imagine a baby coming home to be cute and cuddly, only to be kept up at night with a cute child who is screaming. Many of us did not imagine the sacrifice parenting demands.
Then some of us envision disciplining as telling the older child what to do and he or she will do it because we said so. The terrible twos challenge that idea! Then the terrible twos are experienced again during the teenage years!
When it comes to parenting, many of us
imagine a baby coming home to be cute and cuddly,
only to be kept up at night with a cute child who
is screaming. Many of us did not imagine
the sacrifice parenting demands.
On my parenting box top was the idea that I would not appear harsh if I explained why I was doing what I was doing. The child would understand, and there would not be an argument. Wrong! I remember one time I found myself getting into a frustrating argument with one of my sons. After he asked if he could do something, I would explain why I was saying no. This did not satisfy him. The argument got more frustrating for me. The more I explained, the worse it became.
Seeing my frustration and how what I was doing was not working, Karen, my wife, made a wise suggestion: "Do not explain why - just say no and make it non-discussable." So after Karen telling me what to do, the next time, my son asked me to do something that I thought was not a good idea, I said no. To my astonishment, he said, okay and went on his merry way.
We need to add this: do not over-explain. The child knows we have lost control when we do that, and it doesn't work in the first place. We need to say what we mean and be done with it!
Next month, we will continue with what should be on our parenting box top.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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