Monday, June 10, 2013

The Bites and Stings in Relationship

Sitting on my deck this morning I saw one of those big Japanese hornets flying around.  Of course I don’t really know what kind of bug this was.  Normally those hornets are so loud you can hear them before you see them.  This one was the stealth variety, I suppose.  He came over toward my chair, and I lost sight of him.  I wondered if he would sneak up behind me and sting my leg.  The mosquitoes love to sneak around and bite me where I can’t see them.

Then it occurred to me that the hornet didn’t really want to sting me.  He was looking for food or a friend, or a water fountain.  The hornet would only bother me if I threatened him.  Stinging bugs sting because they feel threatened.

Biting bugs, however, will go after me.  They need food and consider me a provider.  It doesn’t matter if I provoke them.  Biting bugs bite because they want food. 

This was a big aha for me.  The stinging bugs are just protecting themselves, and the biting bugs are out for blood.

Both bites and stings hurt, but the motivation behind them is very different.

Bites and stings also happen in relationships.  Most of the hurts, I believe, are just stings.  People feel threatened, and lash out to protect themselves.  Some are very touchy and easily provoked, like yellow jackets.  They become very aggressive, and just plain mean.  Others are more easy going and rarely sting, like wasps.

Those who bite are predators.  They seek conflict and thrive on sucking the life out of others.  They come after their victims.  They are always sneaky, like the mosquito that bites your neck, or the tick that lurks under your clothes.  For some unhealthy reason, people who bite feel like they need conflict to survive.

The bites and stings in life hurt.  Maybe it helps to know the motive behind the hurts.  We can watch out for those who bite and take steps to avoid having our blood sucked.  We can recognize the stings as self-defense and handle them with grace.

See any mosquitoes or hornets in your life?  How about when you look in the mirror?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Parenting Tips

Have fun.  Parenting should be enjoyed, not endured.  Take a few steps back and have a good laugh.  Someday you will look back at this and laugh.  Maybe today should be the day.

Choose your battles.  Don’t order kids to do something unless you really mean it.  Think about it.  If something bothers you, is that your problem or the kid’s problem?  Can you enforce your request?  Once you put down the order, be prepared to go to the mat. 

Win your battles.  Have a plan for enforcement in mind.  What are you going to do if Johnny won’t stop running around the couch?  In some cases, all you need to do is gently stop the offensive behavior.  There’s a reason that God made parents bigger than children.  In other cases, you may need to stop the kid and punish her.  If your kids learn that you don’t mean it when you give instructions, they lose respect for you.  And eventually, you lose control of your kids.

Give boundaries.  Kids like to know that you are in control, and they count on you to set the boundaries.  Without boundaries, they feel abandoned, believing that no one will stop them from harmful behavior.  One of the great parent tools is the phrase, “That’s enough.”  Translation:  “That behavior is not purely evil, but you can’t keep doing it, because it is getting on my nerves.”  A corollary phrase is, “Two more times, and that will be enough.”  The structure of bed time, meal time, sharing, and physical protection expresses love to a child.

Pay now, not later.  It is tough to make children behave.  Constantly enforcing the rules is anything but convenient.  If they don’t obey when they are small, they will certainly not obey when they are older.  The older they get, the higher are the stakes for their decisions.  A rebellious 14-year-old gets in much worse trouble than a rebellious 4-year-old.  Make them behave and eventually (maybe after their own kids are born), they will thank you for it. 

Parenting is lots of fun when you enjoy your kids.  If you don’t enjoy being with them, you have to wonder who does….