Listening or Reacting?
I said a few weeks ago that I was going to share “Engine Light” moments as I experience them with my kids. I wondered when the next Ah ha moment would come for me and just when I thought I was doing a good job, there it was, shining bright in my face.
Let me explain… As most of you know I am experiencing Jr. High for the first time with a daughter. This is uncharted territory for me and drastically different from Jr. High with boys! Did I emphasize drastically? Our first born girl can be so emotional, so unsure, so critical of herself, such a pleaser and a rule follower. She is a perfectionist and has a heart so full of love for everyone. If she disappoints you or upsets you, it just breaks her heart. She is funny and spontaneous, laughs at herself often and loves more than anything her friends and family. She can write with such description, just like as if she were standing there telling you a story, and when she tells you a story you better sit and stay a while because she will include every detail there is. On the other hand she would prefer to never multiply another set of numbers in her life.
She has never really been one to get upset if she and her friends didn’t agree, she often would blow it off and wait until the dust settled. I have often marveled at how unaffected she was by “girl drama.” I should have known that would change as she matured and as her and her friends hit puberty and their emotions took control of their minds. Jr. High started and she was friends with several different groups of girls, something I encouraged fully.
The speech I would give is, "be nice to everyone, don’t talk about anyone, if there are people who aren’t nice, be friendly to them but you don’t have to be their best friend."
As this year has progressed, she has experienced changes in friends. Girls she thought were her “real” friends have changed their minds and are spending more time with others. People she thought would welcome her at the lunch table have had days when they just didn’t have enough room. There have been days when “friends” wouldn’t allow her to sit on the bus with them. Is she devastated, no, she is strong beyond belief! I would have crumbled at that age. She moves on and spends time with other girls that are nicer. BUT, she does come home and tell me all about every incident that happens. I try to listen but I am finding myself reacting more. I begin to give advice and tell her what to say and how to handle it only to realize that she isn’t mature enough to speak those words and these girls aren’t mature enough to change the way they are behaving.
We have all been there!
Here is where my engine light blinded me yesterday. As she shared with me more of what had happened with this group of girls, I immediately began to react. It is only natural for me especially when I feel she is being hurt and when my heart hurts for her. Once again I am advising and just so unbelievably frustrated with the whole situation. I don’t understand why she cares, I can’t imagine that the same little girls who begged for a ride from me the week before are being so cruel and I don’t understand why she can’t just ignore all of it…I suddenly realize, she isn’t me!
She truly hates the thought of someone being mad at her, she especially hates the thought of me being mad at her and my reacting is looking just like that mad at HER.
I stopped listening, which is honestly all she needed. She needed to vent, she didn’t need a lecture she didn’t need my opinion, or my ridiculous reaction. The words that slapped me right in the face where these….
”if something bad happens mom,
I’m not going to tell you anymore because you are just going to get mad!”
OUCH, something bad happening to my beautiful daughter? Not telling me about it, because you don’t want my reaction? Double OUCH!!! Then it hit me, my Engine Light was flashing red and warning me with the words of an 11 year old girl,
I need to Listen not React…
She will be faced with so many more dramatic days, plenty of people who like her and dislike her, friends and eventually boys who will break her heart and the last thing I want to happen is for her to not trust coming to me.
So with that said, and with knowing how quickly I want to advise her, I need to support her, love her, pray for her and most importantly LISTEN to her. Oddly enough she will probably work through it herself and that process will be even better knowing I am supporting her, and here for her at all times no matter what.
Is it hard, YES!! I would like to take any and all drama out of her life and all of my kids lives but unfortunately it’s a part of life and a part of growing, maturing and becoming the person God intends them to be. She is blessed with such a variety of friends and that’s the ones we need to stay focused on! As my dad used to tell me all of the time, “this too shall pass.” So this afternoon when she comes in I will have the duct tape ready to go and I will use it on myself if I begin to revert back to reactor and not listener.
Do you do the same thing ? If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them! Leave a comment if you have any advice, I am ALWAYS open!
Until next time,