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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some Things are Just Worth It

image: ldswhy.com
One of our children can never find what he needs the most when he needs it the most. This morning it was a shirt for church. I'm finding with my boys that if they don't have one part of what they need, they get hung up on that one thing and it holds back the progress in all other areas as well. For example, because he didn't have a shirt, even though he had the pants, socks, shoes, etc., nothing got changed into. I think, for me, if I had the same problem, I'd put my pants, socks and shoes on until I could find the shirt, but not my boys. Because I'm not that same way, it's a bit frustrating for me.

image: templates.advancedesol.com
The rule I have for my kids is that the problem is theirs. They need to find what they're looking for. If they ask for my help, and I can help, I will, but only if they are actively trying to help themselves while I'm helping them. I'm not about to steal the learning opportunity from them.

There have been a number of times when I've jumped in to help, when asked, and the child has just walked out of the room leaving me to do what needs to be done. Oh no...that's not how it's going to happen. If they quit, so do I.

So, this morning, a similar thing happened, and I just said, "Sorry, you're on your own."

image: wnydealsandtodos.com
The child sat in the upstairs hallway in his jammies. I was determined that this was how it was going to be. Plans started being made for leaving this child at home while the rest of us headed to church. I was all set to do that.

image: ezrachurch.com
As the time approached to leave, we were about two minutes from time of departure, and I had this sudden tugging at my heart. I could suddenly see the bigger picture. What was I teaching my son? Was this a lesson I wanted him to learn--that if he couldn't find his stuff, he could just quit, even when it's something as important as going to church? Something that could bring him closer to Christ?

This was definitely something that was worth battling for. What I really wanted to teach him was that church needs to be a high priority. It's something that we do no matter what--even if you have to go in your pajamas, you go where you can become a better person, where your own life can be enriched like no place else.

I went upstairs and told him he was going to church and that I was going to help him get there because I knew how important it is to do so. He could go in his pajamas, or we could look until we found his shirt. He gave me a shocked look, but I told him that some things were worth battling for. This was one of those things. He got up and no argument was given, but I could see that he had also given up and was planning on staying home. He had to change his plans suddenly. We went in search of the shirt.

I hollered down to the Warden that he should take the other kids and go and that we would come in the other car later when we got things figured out. The rest of the family got into the car and left.

image: howdoesshe.com
I went into the laundry room and started sorting laundry. I had him help me. Sure enough, in the last little bit of laundry, there they were--two shirts worthy of church--the only two he owned. Funny thing is, you only wear one a week, so I'm pretty sure this was just his way of cleaning his room this past week--anything on the floor goes to the laundry. Ugh!

image: mycardclub.com
I learned something very valuable from this little experience. First of all, it's important that I have my priorities and that I have a solid basis for those priorities--enough so that I can clearly teach my children why those things are important to me. Second, I felt that the reason why I was able to exert my will in this case and have him accept it so well is because I don't exert my will very often. In some ways, it's kind of like a bank account. He is allowed choices in nearly everything he does. I allow him to decide and exercise his agency daily, moment by moment. Because I've built up so many deposits into his account, sometimes it's okay for me to make a withdrawal. The great thing was, I felt I could do so without causing a deficit.

image: objectsblog.com
I was grateful today for the opportunity to teach my son what is really important to me. I hope that he will gain that understanding as well. I hope that he will gain it to the point that someday finding his stuff beforehand will become a sign that this is important to him too.

Sometimes I guess the underlying message is much more important than the immediate consequence. It's all a matter of priorities.

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