I recently allowed a teenage girl to help watch my kids while I got some things done. I was embarrassed and disturbed at how immature this girl was. It was like a magnifying mirror being held up so I could see how I look when I act like that at times. Whining at the kids, bossing them by raising her voice, telling them to "stop it!" constantly, getting madder and madder each time they did something she told them not to do, acting like they should obey her simply because she was bigger; all tell-tale signs of immaturity. She is a teenager. She's immature by nature. What's our excuse?
The children were uncomfortable and went about pushing the limits, trying to establish some sort of boundaries. She only saw what they were doing as a challenge to her authority, which she had never established in the first place. She was too lazy to come up with a suitable distraction or even a consequence for doing things that were off limit, so she just raised her voice and maintained, a constant, "I'm about to lose my temper if you do that again," kind of attitude. It's easy to see the flaw in someone else, harder to see in ourselves. One of my favorite posts, Response-Ability, draws a line between being Responsible, and Response-able. Both attributes go hand in hand. How do I respond when children want to exercise their own will? How do I go about motivating them to be responsible? Do I just boss them around? When I'm lazy, do I act like that immature teenage girl?
I told the girl at one point, "anything that gets an emotional rise out of you, they will do over and over again." Yet she still used her emotions to scold and try to control them negatively. Then I asked myself, 'do I do that?' 'Do I listen to my own advice?' I am so annoyed with this girl, but is it because I see myself in her? Is it really myself I'm irritated with?
I noticed that she would whip them up into a frenzy, being wild and encouraging them to run and scream , for about 5 minutes, and then she was done, and would then go about pushing them away, and yelling at them for taking it too far, as children always do. She couldn't seem to keep on an even keel at all, and so neither could they. By the end of the evening, my children were emotionally exhausted and frustrated. My daughter acted out the whole time, with a smile on her face, and then when we got in the car, she burst into tears. She needed the calm, controlled, security of someone she could trust.
Needless to say, teenagers are not going to be babysitting my kids anymore, even if I'm in the room. I am more determined than ever to be the emotional rock in my home, so that the children can not move me. I am in control of myself, and they can count on me. If I feel strongly about something, I will control that feeling so that I express it in a constructive way, not just explode when my "buttons are pushed" or other nonsense.
"Button Pushing" is my current pet peeve. It really 'pushes my buttons' when someone tells me someone is 'pushing their buttons!' Stop letting people control you! You are powerful enough to choose your own reactions! I can CHOOSE to bless someone who is cursing me. I can CHOOSE to show kindness when someone else is showing contempt. I can lower my voice when someone else is raising their voice. I can feel love for someone who is seething with hate. I CAN CHOOSE to smile warmly when someone is scowling or glaring at me. It is possible with all relationships, but it is especially crucial when dealing with children. When they are out of control they desperately need an example of disciplined self-control to fall into.
I renew this goal right now. I promise myself and my children, I will be the opposite of the immature teenager. I will be the rock they need, and I will never allow them to be at the mercy of such insecurity again. Cross my heart.