I had quite a serious conversation with TechnoBoy this week.
I don’t know what’s been going on with him lately, but his temper has been flaring at surprising moments. Like….I ask him to help me pick up an item off the floor. Or….I tell him that he has to eat fruit or veggies before cereal at breakfast (this has been the rule for as long as he can remember). Sometimes….he just walks in the door and he has that look.
Shoulders raised, face flushed slightly pink. Eyebrows set in a furrow, and his jaw set with lips drawn together. You can tell just by looking at him that he’s angry.
Wednesday afternoon he got upset with me for suggesting he should eat a bigger lunch, so I sent him to his room for some thinking time. Had to wait for the rest of the kids to finish eating, so it was several minutes before I was able to get to him.Then I went and started the conversation.
I explained that I know him.
I mean, I really know him.
I’ve known him since I carried him inside me. I’ve been with him for probably 98% of his life. I watch him, care for him, pray over him, think about him, get frustrated with him… you name it. But I know him. And I know when some thing’s not right, which is now.
He thought about it, and didn’t think he was angry about anything at all. I described for him what I was seeing, and said that among other things, he doesn’t seem to want hugs or kisses. He said, “I want hugs and kisses,” so I challenged him to come on over and prove it.
Suddenly my angry young man was giving me the biggest hug he had in a long time. Then he let me hold on to him for a little bit while we talked some more. He said that it’s embarrassing to have Mom hugging and kissing a boy when others could see it.
Aha. Now I get it.
I explained to him that every child is born with a kind of clock inside of them, and it’s normal and natural for him to feel like he should be separate from me. Life from birth to adulthood is a slow progression, and the process of becoming independent means that there has to be space between us.
Then I explained that while it’s okay for there to be physical space between us, it’s critical that we stay close to each other and to God in our hearts. Children who are far from their parents’ heart are more likely to believe lies about themselves, like
- I’m worthless
- Nobody cares
- It doesn’t matter what I do
I explained that those lies are straight from the pit of hell, and that children who believe them are in danger of hurting themselves and others. Then I reminded him that I love him very much.
A totally different kid walked away from that conversation. I don’t know if he understood everything I was saying. I think he appreciated the part where I wasn’t angry about the way he’s been feeling. For now at least, we’re on the same team.
I know that ahead lay many battles for his heart and the hearts of his brothers. That’s all right. I aim to keep fighting, and keep connecting. I’m in this for the long haul.
Earnest Parenting: help for family relationships.