Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An Alternative To The "Life Isn't Fair" Lecture


 
I often describe our children as characters from Winnie The Pooh. We have two Tiggers and one Eyore. Each of them uniquely made in the image of God with their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. They’re as different as the colors of hair upon their heads!
With our Tiggers, there’s boundless amounts of energy, which means they’re always up for an adventure, but they also have trouble sitting still. They’re everywhere, all the time.

With our Eyore, there’s a need for lots of downtime, which means I always have a snuggle buddy, but the motivation to stay active is harder to capture. We have to drag this kid outside if it’s the least bit warm.
The differences exist in the emotional realm too. Our Tiggers tend to be optimists, and our Eyore tends to be a pessimist. And though our culture would likely place more value on being an optimist, rest assured both tendencies bring opportunities and challenges to the table.

I recall a season not too long ago when our Eyore was in a constant state of discontent. It was score keeping at its finest, and the number of times I heard the phrase, “that’s not fair,” I don’t even know. We’re talking about injustices like the size of a dessert serving, the number of pages read from a bedtime story, the amount of free time given between homework and dinner.
You get the picture.

My frustration was at an all-time high one evening, when this kid bounded down the stairs to report yet another injustice in the story of life.
I took a deep breath as I prepared to launch into a speech about life and fairness, when I had a Holy Spirit moment.

In a parenting class my husband and I took years ago, we spent some time discussing how to deal with the hard days. You know the kind. The kind when our children wake up, saying to themselves, “I think today is a good day to die!”
And they fight us at every turn.
He suggested that on these very hard days we take a time out to be still and to meditate on all the things we’re thankful for about the children we’re struggling with. He proposed that engaging in this exercise would lead to a deeper sense of gratitude, help us channel our frustration, and address the issues with our children in more positive ways.

I’ve done this exercise a thousand times, and it works like a charm.
As I stood face-to-face with our Eyore at the bottom of the stairs, it occurred to me that if this exercise can work for parents, why wouldn’t it work for kids?

So instead of launching into a speech about life and fairness, I went to our office and came back with a blank piece of paper and a pencil. I instructed our Eyore to find a quiet place to sit and to write ten statements of gratitude.

“I am thankful for …”
Our Eyore was gone for a long, long while. But by the completion of this task, this kid’s disposition had completely changed! Because we took the focus off of what we didn’t have and redirected it towards our blessings, we created an opportunity for this kid to discover that the purported "injustice" was really no big deal.
 
And that made all the difference.
 
A good exercise to do any day of the week, and certainly more productive than listening to a lecture from mommy!

So if you have an Eyore in your family, or if you find yourself in an Eyore kind of moment for that matter, consider taking a stab at this exercise. It’s never a waste of time to count our blessings, and I’ve found it to leads to a greater state of contentment every time.

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