Having children is a blessing. Not to sure? Just ask someone who desperately wants them but cannot have them. Sometimes having them does not mean loving them. For example, I’ve had to stop three times while writing this article and I only have four sentences! KIDS!!
Having a relationship with your children is no different from any other relationship in your life. Sometimes they will absolutely drive you crazy – even if it is someone you truly love. It’s those little things that happen over and over that work your nerves.
Didn’t I say no running in the house? Who left a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich under the coffee table? Is that your name on the wall? Didn’t I say take out the garbage – not bag it up and leave it next to the garbage can? Why are you asking me questions when I’m on the phone? And, didn’t I say no running in the house? Aaahhh, those little angels.
Don’t fall into that guilt-filled trap that suggest that good parents raise their kids right so that they always obey – the first time – and never stay out past curfew, and finish all their homework and chores and never slam doors and on and on and on. Kids will be kids. You can, however, learn to really love your kids through all of their different phases.
If you can recognize the phases and be prepared for their onset you will be one step ahead of your “little angels.”
Phase One – Hollerin’ and Screamin’
Kids are generally pretty easy to get along with until about age two. From two to four – maybe five depending on the kid – they will whine, scream, beg and generally holler for any and every thing. I want to sleep with you. I want my toy – NOW. I want more juice. In the red cup. THE RED CUP. The Wiggles just went off. And our darling five year old who proclaims while crying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just want my momma.”
What to do: Sigh. Agree. Hug. Restate the rules. Sigh again. At this age kids are trying to figure out the rules and where they belong. They want independence but still need reassurance.
Phase Two – Silly
About age 8 until 10, kids get absolutely silly. They will tell you every knock-knock joke, booger joke, television commercial, and every plot line (plus ending) of every episode of whatever is on the Disney Channel. Be prepared for signs that say, “Kick Me” on backs and lots of bunny ears on pictures. As an adult with many serious issues on your mind – mortgages, utilities, car payments, retirement, car safety, gas prices, home renovations (need I go on?) – this will be the worst of it.
What to do: Remember that kids are just kids. Try to think of the things and movies that you loved as a kid. Your kid has NEVER experienced those things and it will be fun and new to them. I was amazed when I figured out that my kids had never seen Gremlins, the Goonies, ate Jiffy Pop from the stove or tried to really fry an egg on the sidewalk. Do those things with you kids and remember you can always send them to their rooms to be silly.
Phase Three – Brooding
Okay from 11 to 13 your kids will not want to be seen with you – EVER! You are so uncool, unhip, lame and whatever words they can come up with. Yes, they still love and need you but kids are really separating from their parents during these ages. It is still your job to keep talking – listening is involuntary. The words sink in if they want them to or not. Boys and girls are different. Girls are moody and boys are distant. They are thinking and processing the world – generally.
What to do: Be a parent. Keep the rules. Watch ’em like hawks and know they are testing their wings. If you have given them that good foundation, they won’t slip too far. Make sure your kids know what you think and feel about different topics without the lecture.
Phase Four – Uncertainty
This period is pretty short-lived but crucial. From 14 to 15 years of age your child will start to question themselves. Are they good enough? Do they fit in? They are unsure about how the world operates and are keen on injustice. Ever heard the words, “That’s not fair!” Kids can really go astray here and are very open to being influenced – positive and negative. This is where you can really talk to your kids because they really want to know all about you. What were you like at 15? How did you meet your spouse? What was your first job or car or date? Give ’em the goods. They want the truth. It is reassuring to know that this “phase” is nothing new. It’s just new to them.
What to do: Hold ’em tight! Kids need to be accountable for their actions and sure of consequences. Of course they are getting more freedom. Let them make mistakes. Talk, talk and talk some more.
Phase Five – I’m grown!
Once your little angel hits 16, you (the parent) will become the most ignorant person on the planet. How did you make it all this time? At this phase kids think they know it all. Don’t you remember being 17 and being free to drive around town? I shudder. Your little angels will be off to college soon. In their minds they are grown. We know they are not.
What to do: Sigh. Agree. Hug. Restate the rules. Sigh again. At this age kids are trying to figure out the rules and where they belong. They want independence but still need reassurance. Hey – that’s a repeat of Phase One! Yeah it’s the circle of life – Enjoy!