What if my kid is loud and boisterous?
What if my kid is emotional and standoffish?
What if my kid is a constantly moving, wriggling, excitable, feral creature?
What if my kid is an annoying handful?
What if nothing needs to change?
As a kid, I was constantly being asked to talk quieter, to dial it back and usually to stop talking all together. I wasn’t especially sporty or physically energetic. I loved the library. I loved ideas. I loved sharing those ideas. Especially with my classmates. In class. While the teacher was also trying to share her ideas. Challenge accepted! Challenge… not appreciated.
Now that I make my living as a communicator, my childhood energies make sense to me. I can see now that communication is my gift. But it took time to work out the rough edges, to find my voice, and to learn that volume alone isn’t the most powerful form of communication. It also took me time to ditch the shame and emotional baggage, to disbelieve that I was too loud, that I talked too much, that I myself was too much for people.
Our challenge and our privilege as parents is to see through the outer layers (the things that drive us crazy) to the precious hearts within our children. And to call them good. And to help our children call themselves good. That noisy, high energy kid? That’s exactly who they’re meant to be. That broody, emotional volcano? Right on track. The wriggly giggly worm that simply cannot sit still? Perfection in progress.
We can become the kind of parents who see the hidden, inner beauty of our children, and who choose to ignore the outer chaos. I’m not talking about letting a child hurt someone and just smiling about it. I’m not talking about overly permissive, non-engaged, parenting. I am talking about present, strategic, engaged parenting that knows when to not sweat the small stuff, and when to dive in and help a little person become a big person on the inside. That requires trust and emotional cohesion and for a child to not feel like they’re a problem to be solved. It requires us to strategically ignore behaviour that makes us go batty.
If your child is acting out their emotions in genuinely destructive ways, that’s something that needs to be addressed. If your child is such a handful that they can’t get along well with other people, you’ll need to help them work on that. That’s your job and if you don’t do it then society will do it for you, but it will be done brutally and without mercy.
For almost everything else… it’s entirely possible that nothing needs to change. Except our hearts toward our children.
I wrote in my last article that any anger or frustration God feels at our behaviour is the very fuel he uses to feed the fire of grace that never stops burning. You can capture that feeling of exasperation towards your child, and hold on to it and put a bit in it’s mouth and direct it. Your frustration can become fuel for commitment to do the hard work of helping your child discover that volume does not equal power.
Start by asking God for new eyes to see your children. Let someone babysit them and then ask them genuinely what they think of your child. Talk to another parent or a kids worker or someone who loves your child, and be prepared to gain a new perspective. Do whatever it takes to have your eyes opened to see their beauty.
Continue by teaching your frustration to honour the beauty you’re seeing. Get on your knees. Thank God for everything he is doing in your child’s life. Praise your child. Tell them what your heart thinks of them. Let them revel in your love and your adoration. Watch what it does to them and watch what it does to you.
And if you genuinely, really, can’t find the capacity to do this, there’s only one thing for you, my friend: your heart must learn to revel in the Father’s love for you.