A Lesson Learned

~Julie Chatfield – Children’s Ministry Director
 
I grew up in Medina Ohio, a small town where everyone knew each other.  It was natural to walk or bike anywhere and we did it often.   When I was fourteen, a curious teenager,  I would sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to wander around with friends.   We would engage in a minimal amount of mischief but it was thrilling, and thirty five years ago wasn’t nearly as dangerous as it is today.   I managed to continue this scheming act until one evening an informant filled my parents in to my conduct.  My father parented me in an ingenious way, probably without even realizing it.

 

  First my father announced his knowledge of my behavior, but instead of accusing, asked me to tell my version of the story.  Through my act of communicating, I immediately owned my poor choices.  Most likely it was a calculated response because I didn’t want to disclose all the shenanigans.  But that’s o.k., inside I knew where I had done wrong.  He then shared his disappointment in me.  His words were not overbearing, threatening, or condescending, just a sigh and then, “I’m disappointed. ” It was all I needed to hear.  He then continued instructing that a punishment was in order.  But instead of inflicting one, he asked my opinion on what that should be.   I was in charge of my behavior and the consequences, and ended up being harder on myself then my dad would have been.
 
A person cannot change another person and this holds true in parenting as well.  You can only help your kids change themselves by giving them the tools they need to do it.   This is most effective through self awareness.  If my dad had yelled, scolded and directed at me all the things I’d done wrong,  I would have become defensive and most likely tuned him out.  Instead I was engaged in my story, defined my mistakes, and whether I told the whole truth, owned what I had done through “MY” words and self actualization.  Ultimately a lesson well learned.
 
Proverbs 20:5 (CEB). Advice comes from the deep waters of the heart; those with understanding can draw it out.

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