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Okay. You’ve done it. You’ve watched someone with her child and thought, “Gasp! My child will never behave that way!” You’ve done that more than once, right? And how many times have you found your child doing that exact thing?
Never say never.
Side bar–do you remember that show, An American Tail? I loved that show. “Never say never, whatever you do.”
Okay, back to the point. In The Parenting Breakthrough (which I still maintain as one of my all-time favorite parenting books), Merrilee Boyack lists some of her parenting tips. Number one is Never Say Never. “I can almost promise you that hte minute you get that word past your lips, you will have set in motion a chain of events guaranteeing that you will face that situation” (page 2). Call it Karma, call it your pride getting in the way, whatever, but the idea that your child will never XYZ is something to avoid.
Children have minds of their own. So despite you deciding what your child will or will not do, it isn’t really up to you in the end. It is up to the child.
Now, I am not saying “don’t have goals for your children” or “don’t hope and instruct your children not to do certain things.” You know what I hope? Lots of things. I hope my children never use recreational drugs. I hope they are kind. I hope they never stray. I hope they develop a strong faith in Christ…Can I guarentee these things? Unfortunately no. I can do my best to ensure it. I can put forth every effort. But I cannot say with confidence “They will never…” That is their choice to make, and hopefully when they come to that choice, I will have done all that I could to help them choose that right path.
And you know, thus far, I can actually think of things I have thought, “my kids will never” where I have been able to stick to it. One example is reverence in church. When we were pregnant with Brayden, I was a careful observer of those around me at church. There were some children who were so well behaved and others who were…not.
One in particular had his parents right where he wanted them. He got bored in Sacrament meeting or Sunday school–understandably. They aren’t exciting for a 18 month-2 year old. He would throw a little fit and get taken out to the hall.
The hall was a lot of fun! He got to chase balls (yes, you read that right), run around, eat food. These things were great fun for the 18 month-2 year old! I observed that other children his age and younger were able to be good in meetings (I later discovered upon inquiry these children were all Babywise babies). I vowed right then and there that I would never take my children in the hall and have it be fun for them. The hall would not be a fun place.
And we have stuck to that. Sure, having fun in the hall would be a lot easier. But if my kids are taken in the hall, they get to sit on the parent’s lap. And that is all. No talking. No walking. No eating. No drinking. No thing. In the meetings, they can do quiet, appropriate activities. So while the meeting itself is no amusement park, it is far superior to the hall.
But generally speaking, watch yourself when you start to say, “I will never” or “my children will never…” A major problem with this line of thinking is that it is usually accompanied with a great amount of judgement on the other parent. Boyack, in her always humorous way, says, “Frankly, I think the Lord starts to chuckle the minute we say, ‘I would never…’ and He sends us that very challenge” (page 3). Perhaps He does. Perhaps we need some humbling at that moment.
So make goals for yourself and your children, but don’t judge and condemn other parents in the process.
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