I have really great kids. I don't mean like I think they are going to be the next President, or the first woman on Mars or anything. We've just been blessed with good, solid, kids. I know many parents think that their kids are great, but I also know there are many parents that fall into the trap of complaining about their kids, particularly when talking to their spouse, or other parents. It's easy to fall into that trap. I have certainly done that from time to time, but it's something I'm working on.
All that being said, there are still times I'm really frustrated with how they are behaving, and it's easy for me to have this feeling of, "why can't my kids do _____", or maybe more accurately, "why can't I get my kids to ______", or maybe even MORE accurately, "IF, I'm a good parent, why can't I get my kids to_____".
One of the big areas for this is with the concept of sharing. My wife and I share just about everything with our kids. I'm not always super excited about it, and maybe it isn't the right approach, but we try and share with them as much as we can. They use our shower (independently), they eat food off our plates, they drink my protein shakes, they get my spot on the couch, and they use my computer to watch Daniel Tiger, sometimes when I'd like to be using it for work.
They don't get these things because we give them whatever they want. We willingly share with them when we can, and we tell them no when it's necessary, but the point is, we try to set an example of sharing.
But when it comes to sharing with each other (we have a young son and a daughter) sometimes it feels like we haven't set a very good example. At times, Hope will share with Harper, and in the next breath, Harper will refuse to share with Hope. Or, for no understandable reason, Harper will stand up and block the television, so that Hope can't see it. I actually understand not sharing the remote, there are significant implications to that action. But refusing to allow the other person to see the screen at all, not sharing the basic experience of watching television, is difficult for me to understand.
And yet, other times, they share perfectly and I feel like the Best Dad Ever (and I have a cup to prove that to be true).
There are two things I want to encourage you on in regards to the concept of sharing:
1) It seems that sharing (for adults) is not all that difficult when it comes to things. We are willing to give up our seat, share a stick of gum, offer to split the last slice of pizza, or lend someone a dollar to buy a drink at work. For our friends, we are generally willing to share our time or our truck to go and help someone move, make them a meal when they are in a time of need, or babysit their kids for a date night. But it seems that we are not always very willing to share things that are less tangible. Things like our ideas, dreams, plans, fears, and faith. We tend to keep these things to ourselves, even with those we are extremely close to. For me, the reasons mainly include a fear of rejection and judgement. How will they respond? What will they think of my idea? What will they think of me?
Maybe you have different reasons. Maybe you are a better man than me and you don't have this problem.
2) Sharing is powerful, because once we get passed those fears, great things can happen when we share. Rather than judgement, we have the potential to receive affirmation and encouragement. Maybe it's a great idea. Maybe someone needs to hear about your plans. Maybe someone needs to hear about your faith. Maybe someone needs to hear your fears .They may be experiencing the same thing, and they (and you) need to know that we aren't alone in this. And maybe, as happened with me in the last couple of days, we share our ideas, and the person that we share with offers a totally new perspective, making connections we hadn't even considered. Suddenly our idea has grown, and we have a support system, that can help us see things from a different perspective, and perhaps even take our idea from a thought into tangible action.
When we share what's going on inside, we can give and get encouragement that doesn't exist when we keep things to ourselves. And you never know where each new conversation might lead.
Don't let fear get in the way of sharing the things that are important to you and your journey.