Integrity: 1.) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles (Online Dictionary, April 20, 2022)
Honesty seems to be a lost trait among children. Adults as well. We exaggerate our skills to get a job. And lie to find a way to cover our mistakes.
But no greater learning experience is had than when we are young.
Remember the humorous post entitled, “eviction notice”? It something that all parents encounter. And also grandparents who have the fortune of living with the grandkids.
I had a friend who told me that they made something very clear to her son long ago. If she yelled at him to get him to do something, it was because he trained her to yell. If he had obeyed, she wouldn’t have to yell to get his attention.
I tried that with the grandkids at my house. It worked for a day. Maybe two.
Then all bets were off. They acted deaf again.
Additionally is the persistent excuse that they “didn’t hear” what was being said (even though they are in the same room), they “misinterpreted” what was being said, “didn’t think it what was being said” was aimed at them, even though they were being looked at when words were spoken.
Backs are turned on the speaker, eye rolls are given, snide or clever remarks are said as they saunter out of the room, leaving the instructions, and the work, to the adult who was trying to get them to do something. Anything.
“He said, she said” becomes the favorite game.
And the parents are caught in the middle trying to figure out what is going on.
And usually, so am I.
One of the most frustrating things that occur in a large household is that anyone could have done something – like breaking a lamp – and no one will confess to the crime. Every one of them will say they didn’t see or hear anything, even if they were in the exact same room.
None of them.
It’s impossible for the cat or dog to have carved an image in the wallboard, or spray paint a perfect circle on a garbage can minutes before anyone enters the room.
Two kids in the same room don’t pay attention to what is going on around them. The smell of paint fumes or sounds of furring strips being pulled from the wall aren’t noticed.
At this point, I think that even if the house caught on fire, no one would notice.
Someone is lying. No one is confessing. And there is not way to reconcile that situation.
Where is Solomon when you need him?
So how do you get young people to follow directions, obey, do what is asked of them?
Many suggest everything from whispering, to setting ground rules and boundaries, to taking away privileges, being a role model (which we have been for honesty), etc..
They all have been tried. None of them work for more than a week. (We’ve even tried for three months with little to no success.)
And when there is a real need for them to obey quickly (like not going into the street or down the driveway to the street or lead the little ones to the street), they ignore the axioms and do what they want anyway. They know the rules and can repeat them verbatim. It’s not like it was just employed.
But without integrity in youth, they will become rebellious adults.
What to do…
Raising kids today is tough. And I’m no expert at it. In fact, I really don’t think anyone is. There are too many variables, personalities, and uniqueness to each one of us to create a general “one-size-fits-all” rule.
And without space away from the frenetic environment, it is often difficult to see the forest (the situation) from the trees (the amount of bodies potentially involved in said destruction or disruptive behavior).
It is difficult at best to not be caught in the immediate fray. When the noise level reaches beyond the 30 decibel earplugs, and the to-do list is unmanageable, it becomes difficult at best.
But the realization that priorities become skewed when distractions hit all at once. At that moment, it is time to stop and reevaluate the moment.
The first step is to forgive yourself.
I am a perfectionist. That is my parenting style. It comes with seeing consequences for actions before they gain the upper hand. And it comes from the style of parenting passed down for generations.
And I, being human, sometimes fall back into the habit of exuding perfection to children. They aren’t adults. And even adults aren’t perfect.
That being said, it is never too late to break that mold. For any of us.
It begins with forgiving the past and looking for the next moment. Every moment is new, and another chance to begin again.
The next step is to put into action what has been discovered.
Let go of the little things. Cling to the precious moments that lie in your grasp.
Stop trying to gain the upper hand when it is not necessarily the most important part of the interaction.
Ask for forgiveness from those you’ve hurt or offended.
Give the power to the offended to remind you of your promises to be better.
Work on guidelines for yourself, especially those that would apply to stressful situations.
And designate a reward system. For myself. Something special, like buying a bouquet of flowers, or a new rose bush. Something that will last long enough to remind you of your promise to yourself: then, learn to let go.
D. Todd Christofferson wisely said, “Many things are good, many things are important, but only a few are essential.”
So, the next time a grandchild decides to act loudly (ADHD), pretend they didn’t hear (teen), act independently and against house rules (testing independence), etc., I need to put things in perspective.
What is the most important lesson these not-yet-adults need to learn? And what can each of us take away from the interaction?
If I find myself rising up in frustration because they are not following my ways, is it because I am being to perfectionistic, or is it important enough to enforce punishment?
Most of the time, it isn’t important.
I need to learn to let go.
If I can do it in my spiritual life with major changes, I can do it in the little things.
Because it is in the little things that gives rise to the learned character trait when big things come. It is training to look at things with a much better perspective.
With that, the attitude and stress level will change for the better.
It’s happened before.
And I’m never too old to learn new ways of approaching life.
I hope you never think you are, either.