Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Category: Parenting (page 1 of 10)

The Price of Kindness

Have you ever had your kindness abused? I have. In fact, I have a particular friend that is the absolute kindest person I know and she has received her fair share of mistreatment over the years. She is always smiling, always encouraging, always helpful, and yet she has had people take advantage of her and be downright hateful. Some people are fake bubbly, but not this gal. She is the real deal, and my heart hurts to know that others have been unkind to her over the years.

I have always tried to be kind to others. Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t made my fair share of mistakes with people, but kindness has been my goal in life in general. The choices I made as a young girl/teen in school didn’t make me popular, but at least they made me generally well tolerated. If you asked a classmate back then how they would describe me, they would probably have said “nice.” I tended to befriend kids that other people wouldn’t. There were a few times my kindness actually made me a target of others’ ill intentions. Even now, as I have recess duty, I watch for kids who are being picked on or tend to be loners.

Recently,  I learned of a former student of mine who developed an eating disorder when she was in high school. This girl was beautiful, treated others well, and made the choice to be an excellent student and not party like some of her friends. Amidst doing the right things, she was ridiculed, ostracized, and made to feel “less than,” when in fact she was so much more. It is painful to make good choices, and then suffer for them.  We must remember that choosing to be kind is not always an easy choice. It will not always be favored by others.

Matthew 16:26 says, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” We may be able to gain friends, status, wealth, etc., by being unkind. The question is, what do we lose in doing so? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be kind and be able to look myself in the mirror than achieve the things the world deems important and be a jerk.

If you have kids, be sure they understand that kindness can come at a price, but it is a price worth paying. And, kids can be kind while not allowing themselves to be victimized. Even as adults we can find ourselves in situations where we wonder if treating others well is worth it. I wish kindness always reaped kindness in return, but sometimes that just isn’t the case.

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” ~ Eric Hoffer

Blessings,

 

Fitting in vs. Belonging

I sat my two months shy of his 13th birthday son down and told him I wanted to talk with him about a book I just read.  Me reading a book certainly isn’t unusual to him, and we often talk about what I read, so he wasn’t too suspicious.

You see, I just finished reading Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. In chapter 7, she talks about the difference between belonging and fitting in. She interviewed 8th graders to find out how they would define the distinction between the two. The three conclusions that she included were spot on, but my favorite was this one: “If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.” What a huge topic for a middle schooler to explore!

If you are reading this and you are a parent, then you know the worry of hoping your kid can find a tribe. And, usually we say we want our kids to fit in, but I think what we should want more than anything is for our kids to belong. I don’t want my sons to be anything other than what God created them to be. I want them to be loved for who they are, not who they try to be.

The part of the chapter that made me think more than any other part was the fact that the kids told her that not belonging at school was one thing, but not belonging at home was ultimately even worse. I thought home is where everyone is supposed to belong, but that’s just not the case. Here are some of the examples the kids gave her:

  1. Not living up to you parents’ expectations.
  2. Not being as cool or popular as your parents want you to be.
  3. Not being good at the same things your parents were good at.
  4. Your parents being embarrassed because you don’t have enough friends or you’re not an athlete or a cheerleader.
  5. Your parents not liking who you are and what you like to do.
  6. When your parents don’t pay attention to your life.

So, my son and I talked through these. I wanted to make sure his dad and I weren’t doing any of these six things. I remembered at the end of last school year when he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue with trumpet. He was so remorseful when he told us since his dad had been such a great trumpet player. Neither of us cared, but he had been so worried. Then, I thought about how he loves Pokemon and I am 100% clueless about it. He reassured me that he knows we don’t care if he plays an instrument, and as for Pokemon, we listen to him tell us about his great finds and take him places to play. For him, that’s enough.

We had such a great conversation, and I can’t believe the young man he is turning into. And, I’m so relieved he feels like he belongs at school, church, and at home. There have been various scenarios throughout my life where I felt like I didn’t fit in, but ultimately I knew it was okay, because I always had a place to belong. Some of us are square pegs in round holes and instead of complaining about it, maybe we need to embrace it, or go look for a square board.

If you haven’t read any of Brown’s books, I highly recommend them. She puts language to things we feel inside, but weren’t sure how to define. Braving the Wilderness was an easy read and opened up great dialogue with my kiddo.

Where do you feel like you most belong?

Blessings,

Duped

clothes

The offending clothes.

“Mom! Tomorrow is dress like a grown up day at school. I need you to help me put an outfit together.”

This from the mouth of my youngest son as he was getting ready for bed. He was already going to be late turning in as it was.

I had that momentary mom debate. Do I draw the line and tell him we’ll take care of it in the morning, or just say sorry, he should have told me earlier? Or, do I take a few minutes to help him gather some things? I opted for the latter, mainly because he rarely wants to participate in events such as these, so I actually felt a little encouraged.

He proceeds to pull out a white dress shirt from the closet and put it on. Next, he hunts down a tie he is happy with. Third on the list is pants. Keep in mind, the seasons are beginning to turn. I haven’t pulled out all of his brother’s hand-me-downs yet for the new season. I trudge into his brother’s room and dig through a storage tub in the closet for a pair of dress pants that will hopefully fit. Now, he digs through the drawer for a belt. There are two and we have to make sure which one fits him now. At this point, he begins insisting on a jacket. His brother has a black suit coat and he wants to wear one like that (which we don’t have in his size). I remember we have a nice dress coat hanging in the entryway closet. I drag it out and he tries it on.

People, this has now been a nearly half hour process. I woke up at 4:30 that morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I am beyond ready to crawl into my own bed.

Finally, he’s satisfied and I tuck him in. I sing him the two songs I have sung every night for as long as I can remember and say the prayer I always say. As soon as I head to his CD player to turn on the audiobook he is currently listening to, he begins to cackle. Not a gentle chuckle. Not a snicker. A full-blown, laughing his head off guffaw.

“Why are you laughing?” I ask.

He laughs harder.

“What is going on?” I press.

He looks at me with sheer glee. “It’s not dress like a grown up day tomorrow!! I tricked you!”

Me: Silence. Dead, furious, livid, stunned silence.

He sees my rage…a bit of a look of panic on his face.

Quietly, “Um, I’ll still wear it tomorrow if you want me to, Mom. Anyway, all isn’t lost. Now we know what I can wear for my school program.”

I maturely leave the room with no words and a slam of my own bedroom door, much to my husband’s dismay. As I relay the story, he sees more of the humor than my distress, which doesn’t help. The ridiculousness of it all strikes me and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I choose to laugh, although I’m still pretty darn mad at this point. How in the world did I give birth to this kind of menace?

A word of warning if you have children. Do not under any circumstances allow them to watch YouTube videos about pranks. I can’t help but think that’s what made the idea enter that little head of his.

I still remember as a kid pretending to be a spider, crawling out from under my bed at bedtime and biting my dad on the shoulder. Unfortunately, I bit way too hard and took a chunk out. No joke. Let’s just say that didn’t go over too well.

Parenting is dangerous, no question about it. At least I get good blogging material from my kids.

Oh, and if your kid tells you it’s a certain dress up day at school and you haven’t heard anything about it, be very, very suspicious.

Blessings,

 

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