BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 39

Last night, after finishing a few loads of laundry, I had a brilliant idea. I said, “Jono!” Jono is my ten year old charming son. I said, “Jono! You have an unusual opportunity tonight! You have an opportunity that none of your other siblings have! You can get your job (folding laundry) done tonight so you won’t have to do it in the morning!” My kids do their household chores in the mornings, before school. It works for us.

I thought, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to get their job done and out of the way? The other two children would have been all over it.

Jono dropped his head, hunched his shoulders, and let out a small whine before curling up on the couch in fetal position – even though he’d been happily playing just seconds before. The idea was more than he could bear.

The laundry did NOT get folded last night. But he did get up to fold and put away all three loads this morning. With some prodding.

Back to last night… After the children were in bed, I sat on the chair in my bedroom and thought to myself, “Where have I gone wrong?” I googled: How to help my 10-year old son want to work.

Guess what. Nothing. All the help offered via google was for mothers of very small children – tips to help your unmotivated 5-year old .

Mama guilt! Have I ruined my son already? Will he never be able to hold a job, or commit to a relationship? Will he never feel the satisfaction of hard work? Will he leave my home unprepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead of him?

All from one late evening when he decided not to do his job a day earlier than expected. Spiraling. Right?

Well, it seems to me that frustrations lead to QUESTIONS, which lead to THOUGHTWORK and to ANSWERS – maybe even solutions I’d never considered before. I need to stop fearing frustration. Stop avoiding questions.

On this particular frustration, I am much much more concerned about changing me than changing my son. What can I learn? How can I be more intentional – not only in how I approach situations in the moment, but in what thoughts I want to offer my children daily. Does that make sense? Let’s explore at this together:

“We don’t get to choose what our children are going to believe in the end – they are going to have to decide. But I think it is really powerful as parents to offer them a way to look at things … And that comes from being intentional and thinking through what you want them to believe.”

Let’s do some thought work.

WHAT DO I WANT TO OFFER MY CHILDREN AS A BELIEF SYSTEM AROUND MONEY?

On a spectrum:

Feelings of ENTITLEMENT ——————– Feelings of SCARCITY

On that spectrum, I want them to believe something in the middle. Money is available. Money requires stratagem. Money is a tool – it can be used to accomplish things. Using money wisely is a skill anyone can learn. Be intentional with you money.

“You can have anything you want, but you cant have everything you want.”

How do I talk about money. Is it helping them foster entitlement? Is is fostering in them a feeling of scarcity?

WHAT DO I WANT TO OFFER THEM TO AS A BELIEF ABOUT THEIR FUTURE?

Again, a spectrum. I look at the two cultures in which my children have been raised:

(American) You can be anything you want to be ———— (British) You should just settle, you are at the affect of what life offers you.

I want to offer them these beliefs, again, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum: Everything is rigged in our favor. Be intentional. Reach for your dreams. I cannot choose everything that happens to me, but I am not a victim.

I want to offer them the belief that choices will provide options. “I am the captain of my ship, master of my soul,” right?

What can I do to offer this belief system? Dare to dream. Dare to fail. Dare to change plans.

WHAT DO I WANT TO OFFER MY CHILDREN AS A BELIEF ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE?

Last night Ella came home from a youth church activity, crying.

Do I want them to believe that others are responsible for their emotions, or that they are responsible for others emotions? I absolutely do not.

I want to teach my kids: Be polite because YOU are a respectful person, not because you are in charge of other people’s feelings.

Believe that everyone is doing the best they can. Is that true? Maybe. Maybe not. But it will serve me well, and it will serve them well, to adopt this belief.

How do I convey this? In the words I choose to use with my children. “Oh, I am so sorry she made you so sad.” No. “Oh, I am so sorry that you felt sad. That wasn’t very nice of her.” Yes.

WHAT DO I WANT TO OFFER MY CHILDREN AS A BELIEF ABOUT THEIR OWN VALUE OR WORTH?

Again, a spectrum:

You can do no wrong —————————- You are not valuable

How about, you are imperfect, and you are valuable beyond belief.

What parent would ever intentionally say to their child, “You are of no value to our family.” No parent. But how many times do I convey that message by my actions – redoing the job I asked them to do, for example.

WHAT DO I WANT TO OFFER MY CHILDREN AS A BELIEF SYSTEM AROUND FOOD?

Make responsible and intentional decisions. Ask ourselves: It is for entertainment? It is for fuel?

What you take into your body affects you.

Talk about it. Where does this come from. Food closest to the dirt – how many steps from the dirt.

WHAT DO I WANT TO OFFER THEM AS A BELIEF ABOUT HARD WORK?

“When you can get clean on what you really believe when it comes to money or time or worth or the future, you will parent from a different space.”