I recently read a book called the Christmas Sweater. In this book, the main character (a teenager) makes a lot of mistakes. Glenn Beck, the author, tells what the teenager was thinking and how he really wanted to change, but felt it would show weakness to admit he was wrong, or that he needed help etc. This was a great photo into the mind of a teenager. This was a great, easy read.
This book shows how important it is to "seek first to understand, then to be understood." In the story, the adults didn't really know how to handle the teenager's attitude, but a mysterious, guardian angeltype neighbor did. We can all take lessons from this neighbor in listening. So often we get so caught up in what we want to say next, that we forget to listen to the person we are talking to. Then we really can't help anyone.
The book says, "We're all made up of two parts. There's a part that thinks, and there's a part that feels." This is true. I liked how the book showed what happens when a person follows the part that thinks and when a person follows the part that feels. There are consequences to both.
In order to inspire our children to choose the right choices, we need to seek to understand what they think and what they feel, then teach to both of those things.
The other day, my 12 year old son told me a lie because he obviously thought he might get negative attention if he told the truth. I gave him another opportunity to speak the truth. He didn't do it. He just didn't want to admit he had made a bad choice. Finally, I said, "What you really mean to say is……………..you just don't want to say it, because you think that I will think bad of you, but I won't, so just speak the truth."
Instead of getting upset, or choosing to let it be, I chose to show him I understood what was inside him. I spoke for him, and showed him that it was safe to speak the truth to me. Then he smiled and wanted to speak the truth. It's OK to assume sometimes if it is in an effort to show your child that you understand. If you mess up in your assumption, that is OK. They will set you straight and then you will understand more anyway. After you really understand, then you can make a plan for how to help your youth conquer another temptation or behavior.
Seek to understand your child before you teach, and read the Christmas Sweater if you have time this season. It was fun!
Ah Christmas! ~Nicholeen