I think sometimes people worry so much about spoiling their kids that they miss out on so much of their children's heart and spirit. They miss out on opportunities to be a friend and show their kids that their wants matter.
I think sometimes people live in a black and white world and miss the color everywhere. They have determined that everything is either this or that and there is no room for considering circumstances.
I was at the store yesterday and in front of me in line was a little girl and her father. He told her that she could get a candy and so she put m&m's on the conveyor belt. She then proceeded to put two other candies up as well. At first her father looked down at her and said, "one honey, choose one." She whined a bit and said she wanted them all.
This is that moment when parents typically panic and realize they have two options, the black and white world viewers. They can either stand their ground while their kids throw a fit and others pat them on the back for being a good, firm parent or they can give in, buy all the candy, get their kids to be quiet and happy and try and ignore the angry stares from others lamenting over their raising entitled kids.
I was so glad that this dad saw the color in things and chose a route of light, of connection. Kneeling down to her level, he said to her, "You want all of these candies?" Sniffling a bit, she said, "And this one," while adding another candy to the three already there. He asked her, "Why do you want so many candies?" Her response was beautiful. "I want to give those ones to my friends."
Her daddy smiled and said, "That's very nice of you. We will buy them all; one for you and three for your friends. Next time try to remember to talk to me about it when I don't understand instead of just getting upset." She hugged her daddy, they finished their transaction, I smiled at them as they walked away. I thought about how if he had just told her no, she would have cried more, he would have put them all back, she would have thrown a fit and been in trouble and he would have never known the kind deed his daughter wanted to do.
Once they were gone, from behind me came the black and white reaction. "Ugh. I can't believe he gave in." I should have kept my mouth closed but it's oh so hard for me to do. "He didn't give in," I said to them, "He communicated with his daughter and worked things out. Her thoughts were completely kind and giving, she's just a little girl and doesn't quite know how to express them yet. Her father listened to her and gave her the ability to communicate. He showed her that he cared about her and her thoughts and her wants. He showed her that she can talk to him and he will listen. It wasn't mindless give her what she wants to shut her up or frightened better stand my ground so she doesn't become a spoiled brat that still lives at home at 30 and won't get a job. It was mindfulness, it was connection. That was a great father."
Color is such a delightful part of this world, we need to embrace it. We need to consider circumstances, listen to each other, realize that our first thought may not be the answer. If we allow for it, we can learn so much from each other and that includes our children. Age difference, cultural difference, faith difference, any difference at all just means that if we listen, if we don't stubbornly push others away, we can add more color to our lives.