Give Your Child the Benefit of the Doubt
Do you remember what it’s like to be a child?
Do you remember struggling with something and being told, “Come on, it’s easy! You’re just not trying.” Or worse, “You could do better if you weren’t so lazy/careless.”
Do you remember how that felt?
What if you really were struggling? What if you couldn’t see the chalkboard, or couldn’t hear the teacher clearly? What if you just didn’t quite understand what to do? Did it help to be told that you’re not trying, or that you’re lazy, or careless? Did it make you want to come back to school, to try harder?
I rather doubt it.
If you have a child that’s not doing well with something, stop and think before you speak. If the child is generally cooperative and obedient, is there any reason to assume that he or she has suddenly become uncooperative, careless, lazy, or incompetent?
Children often don’t know how to clearly express a lack of comprehension, and parents can get tired of hearing “I don’t know how,” or “I can’t.” The child may not fully understand that the reason he feels he can’t write a book report is because he’s never seen a completed one. Often, he’ll dawdle, be mischievous, or procrastinate because he truly doesn’t know the next step.
That isn’t the child’s fault, is it?
If a child doesn’t see or hear clearly, he or she usually don’t realize it. If trees have always been green blobs, how would she know that trees don’t look like that to other people? Children can’t explain what they don’t know, so it’s important for those who love them to have their sight and hearing checked regularly, so that problems can be caught and fixed.
One of the biggest responsibilities of parenthood is to model love, grace, and kindness. Remember your own childhood, and how it felt to be unjustly accused or misunderstood. Remember how it felt when someone extended love, grace, and kindness to you, and showed patience and understanding when you had difficulties. Remember God’s love. Pass it on.