Which Do You Choose? Love or Right?
Your kid comes home from school with a black eye he got in a fight he started protecting someone from being bullied. Before he can even get his backpack off his shoulder, the interrogation begins. Not the “Oh my gosh, honey! Are you okay??” kinds of questions but more like the, “How could you?! What were you thinking?! You know better than to do something like this! What are the other parents going to think?” kinds of questions. You get no satisfaction from the defensive answers your son gives you because, well, quite frankly they’re not the answers you want to hear. Your son gets even more angry, says a few choice words to and about you, and takes off for the rest of the night. You’re left standing there mortified, confused and even angrier than before. You can’t figure out how things went from bad to worse in such a short amount of time, and now you’re not even sure how to clean up the aftermath of the bomb that just exploded in your living room. How will you be able to put back the pieces of the trust that were shattered by those callous and unfeeling questions that bombarded an already vulnerable teenager?
1. Decide if you’d rather be right or you’d rather be love. If helping guide your child through this epic skill-honing journey called life is your main priority, then my guess is you’d rather be love. Your kids already live with the fear of disappointing you or letting you down in any way, and when they’re hit with questions they hear as derogatory, demeaning and uncaring, they’re going to cower and shut down even more.
Taking the time to ask your son to share his perspective —his side of the story —will not only soften his demeanor but will also SHOW your son you appreciate and accept him for who he is and not what he’s done. Being love puts you in the Nikes of your teenager and allows you to go through the experience with him and fully understanding the WHY behind the what. Once you get to the why, then you can both lovingly discuss what happened—using I statements such as, “I can totally see how that bully made you feel. I’m angry just hearing about him picking on that second grader. Honestly, I probably would have done the same thing, dude.”Being real, vulnerable and honest cracks open the door for your son to entertain the idea of being the same way with you.
2. Continue to be encouraging. Every behavior is a cry for a unspoken need to be met. Toddlers, kids, teens and adults alike will “misbehave”when they don’t know how to verbally express what they feel they’re lacking. Sometimes the need might not even be known until the behavior becomes unmanageable, but with love, encouragement and consistency the root of the issue can be dug up, exposed and fertilized back to health.
3. Keep it 100. It’s never too late to start keeping it real with your kids. If you’re proud of them, tell them. If you’re disappointed in them, tell them —again using your “I”statements. Kids —everyone breathing —are looking to be noticed for who they uniquely are, and if they don’t get it at home they’ll find it somewhere. Wouldn’t you rather be the person your kids come to when they need advice rather than having them turn to their besties who have barely made it through puberty? Be your kids friend when it’s time and earn their trust by being real with them —100% real —because let’s face it: they already know when you’re faking it anyway. Give what you hope to get and it will come back to you. It has to. Not only that, you’re teaching by example the foundational life-skill you wish you had been taught all those years ago.
So when your kid comes home with that black eye, choose love over being right because, after all, Love truly is the only thing that’s right in this world…
Danica Trebel is a mom to two AMAZING teenage sons, a recovering perfectionist and a Family Dynamics & Life Coach. She specializes in helping families tune up their relationships through perspective, communication and faith. www.danicatrebel.com