I feel so blessed. Last night I drove to the dollar store with my 9 yr old and 5 yr old. All of us in our jammies and me grossing them out by singing made-up songs about boogers. Then my 9 yr old started singing some old songs from musicals I don’t think I’ve seen, but she knows them by heart. Silliness was abundant. Smiles all around.
It was a rare occasion for me. Most of the last 5 years I’ve been too busy with our family run business. If one of our kids told me at bed-time that they needed poster-board for a report due the next day, I would have been upset, grumpy, and disagreeable or worse. More likely, I wouldn’t have even been around. Too busy to give them the time and attention they desperately wanted from their dad.
I’m not trying to paint a pity-party picture, just a reference so you know I can relate to all of us parents trying to do too much of the wrong things. Also, just like you, I’m not as bad as I tell myself. My kids love me to pieces, and even with all the mistakes, I know that I’m a good dad.
Even being a good dad, it seemed that my kids would rarely do what I asked of them until I raised my voice or pestered them all along the path of dirty clothes and crayons on the floor. Many times I asked myself why they were so good at blatantly ignoring me. Don’t I have authority to tell them what to do? Aren’t I teaching them what is good for them?
So why am I telling you about our trip to the dollar store in jammies with booger songs?
The last few years, Shelly and I have been to scores of business trainings, read truckloads of business and personal development books, and participated in hours and hours of business coaching and consulting. One thing that we learned from Brenden Buchard is a secret to drawing in customers. The formula he gives is that you give, give give, then you ask. You give your customer good information that they can use, teach them about your product and how it will help them, and be genuinely interested in helping them first, then you ask them if they are interested in buying a product or service. Make it about helping them and not how you can use them.
How many of you have been to a tradeshow where there were certain booths you avoided like your kids’ stinky stocks? Last year we hosted a booth at the Pinners Conference in Sandy, UT and 3-4 booths down from us was a company that had their salesforce pouncing on people. They treated the attendees more like mice to catch than a person to build a relationship with. We watched as people would very visibly steer clear of this booth like opposing magnets. Even though I’d been there for two days and had already rejected the offer from every salesperson there, I still walked down a different aisle to stay away from the uncomfortable presence they held.
So, are we treating our kids the same way?...I realized that’s what I was doing with my kids. All I ever did in their minds was ask them to clean up after themselves, ask them to eat their dinner (that they didn’t like because I snuck healthy things into it), ask them to go to sleep, NOW! In fact, it went beyond asking, and it was really just demanding. What was I giving them? Was I demanding that they obey because I wanted them to learn the lessons of life, or because I thought I was in charge and they should obey without question?
Yes, certainly there are times when we need to take charge because they don’t understand lasting consequences, but even in those times, I believe we can lead them to safety in love, not in tyrannical dominion.
I believe we can act in love by giving them time, giving them real loving attention, giving them part of your sillier side and have a little fun so they know that life isn’t all about taxes and death. If we do this, in love more consistently, I have been greatly amazed to see them respond back by respecting me more, listening better, and overall less fighting all around.
So, maybe you can make up your own song about boogers, read them a story that they choose, climb a tree with them, chase them and tickle them “just a little bit longer, pppplllleeeeease?” Give them what their soul desires from a loving and interested parent. Then when you tuck them in at night, and they hug you much too tight, you won’t mind if they hold on a little bit longer.
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