I probably didn’t give my wife, Gail, enough praise during the tough years of parenting. There are lots of things I would do differently as a parent and as a husband. One would certainly be to verbally support my wife more in the work she did with our three daughters.
She did some amazing parenting with them, and she is doing some fine grand-parenting with our three grandkids. She comes up with some great ideas, so I’d like to share a recent episode with you, and praise her in the process.
Our three grandkids stayed with us for a week last summer. The kids were 2, 3 and 5, and the two youngest are very active boys. One day they were all a bit whiny, so Gail decided they needed to develop the quality of contentment.
She bought four special cookies with decorative icing to choose from. One was a butterfly shape, one a dragonfly, one a bumblebee and the fourth was a caterpillar shape. She sat them all down and explained that she wanted each one to pick out a shape, not for themselves, but to give to a sibling. No one would get to pick his or her own.
Gail explained the definition of contentment as ‘being happy even when you don’t get exactly what you want.’ Even our youngest grandson could understand it. As each child picked for the other, it became clear that the five year old had her eye on the butterfly. When one brother picked it for the other brother, her face fell.
Gail acknowledged the obvious, letting her know that it’s hard when someone else gets what you want. Contessa eventually received the caterpillar, and then remarked “That’s ok Nana. A caterpillar will turn into a butterfly.”
Gail made sure each child knew that all the cookies tasted the same; they only looked different. Each child managed to show a good attitude and accepted the cookies with contentment. Gail then asked if each child wanted to try a bite of someone else’s cookie, and they all perked up.
Here are five things Gail did to help the children learn that day.
- Gail thought ahead and planned an activity that would appeal to preschoolers.
- She prepared the children by telling them what she wanted to teach them.
- She defined the character trait in a way that a child could understand.
- She used the power of peer pressure to help all the children learn. They all experienced the same trial together, and that made it easier for them to handle. No one was singled out.
- She made sure the ‘test’ was of short duration. After a short waiting time, she allowed the children to try the cookie that they wanted most. It’s always a good idea to start new training with a positive experience.
I’m proud of my wife and her wisdom. Take a few moments to see the good things your spouse does with your kids. Tell him/her what you saw and how it blessed you. Celebrate your successes in parenting, and don’t let the failures ruin your attitude.