The other day at work I had a super weird conversation with one of the ultra chatty people in the break room. She was going on about Easter traditions with the Easter bunny and whatnot. She then proceeded to ask me what I taught my children about the Easter bunny.
I responded that I didn’t do that sort of thing. “What sort of thing?” She asked.
I knew right then it was going to be awkward. And of course I didn’t care enough not to respond. Yeah, I know, pick your battles. Anyway, I said…
“I am genuine with my children.” Obviously this prompted quite the look. But to be honest I feel like I presented that about the best I can.
“What do you mean ‘genuine with your children?'” She said with an inquisitive tone.
I deep sighed at myself knowing the odds of me finding a quick escape were rapidly vanishing. So after I recovered from the deep sigh, I told her that I didn’t speak dishonestly to my children by implying, or directly coercing them into believing something I know to be false. That particular fairy tale is a good example. Her not having a prepared response gave me an opportunity to expand on that thought and put the fire out before it consumed the room. Which differences in opinions often do.
I further explained that I tell my children about these traditions, but do not trick them into the belief that a magical bunny exists that is spawned from a chicken egg and visits once a year, similar to other holiday characters. We have a good time with them, and even use them, but they understand those traditions are built around fun, and not fact.
Fortunately I was able to escaped unscathed, but I thought to myself, “why wouldn’t someone be genuine with their children?”
That brings me to the first point in this post.
1. Being Genuine Means Being Honest With Your Children
We often think we tell our children make believe stories to help them have fun with the holidays in questions. But I don’t think we are. I think it is more about what we want and the tradition that we were brought up with.
I am probably getting a few eye rolls right now lol, but hear me out. I promise this is the most awkward few paragraphs in the post! You wont hate me for the other points!
If you gave a child an option of knowing the truth and having fun, or being told a story you know at some point is going to break their heart when they find out it is not true and have fun, which do you think they will choose? I can assure you it is the first option. We love holidays and have a blast. We always use the traditional characters, and our children have great fun with them.
The fake story isn’t what causes the fun, in fact, it detracts from it later in life when the realization is cast on the fact is wasn’t ever actually real.
Every Christmas we have a few gifts prepared and put together as if Santa visited. But my children don’t have to go through a Christmas heartbreak of finding out the story they were sold is made up.
Being honest isn’t just about those fairy tales, it goes for everything. There imagination can do the work for you, you don’t have to do things just because that is the way it was always done. You may not remember it now, but I bet you resented your parents pretty heavily whenever you found out those stories were not real. They all came crashing down together. If you are genuine with your children, that never has to happen. You still get all the fun and joy out of the holidays without any of the dishonesty that went along with it because, “that’s the way it has always been done.”
2. You Can’t Be Genuine With Your Children And Use Reverse Psychology
This might be my biggest pet peeve. I will probably never say anything to anyone about their parenting style in public, but this makes my skin crawl, internally.
I see, literally every day, people telling their kids the opposite of what they want them to do. What the heck is that? It irks me so bad, I can’t even really expand on it very much. I can’t wrap my head around why anyone would train someone to do the opposite of what they are asking.
Can anyone point out how that is beneficial? I am not a smart man (obviously), but I just can’t work this issue out. And I see it so much!
A much better way to approach this is the power of two. By giving them the power to make a decision, which ultimately is what reverse psychology is, you can help them be independent. But instead of working to make them always want the opposite of what you want, give them two options. One that is great, and beneficial, and the other that is not so great but still available. This will allow them to pick creating independence and choice, while training them to weight the options in front of them in a way that is actually beneficial.
They will sometimes pick the best option, and the rest of the time they will learn and you will be able to mentor them on why the other option was preferable. Everyone wins, and you don’t have to build a relationship that is adversarial.
3. Being Genuine Mean Being Trustworthy
Sometimes, and this is every parent, we don’t take our children serious enough to do the things we said we will. We said we would, but then we think, “well they are our child, they will just have to understand.” That isn’t good enough.
They are people too, and we would be crushed if someone we trusted looked at us that way. Why do we deserve more respect that a child? Cause we lived a little while. No. Because we demand it. We have the option of leaving relationships, our children don’t.
They can’t just pack their stuff and leave. They are children. One day they will be able too, and on that day is may be too late to start taking them seriously. You can try to repair a relationship at any time by working to balance the relationship bank account, like we spoke about in this post, but you wont need too if you are trustworthy the whole way through. We all make mistakes and do things we regret, but being trustworthy is not a thing we can afford to take for granted. Especially in the eyes of those that we love the most.
If you say it, make it happen. Or do your very best. In the off chance you can’t, fully explain to them why!
4. Put Away Your Phones
This one is a big struggle for me, even more so since I have been working on this blog and internet stuff. Being genuine also means being present. Wanting to be with the people that surround you. Business has to happen, you get calls, and emails. The office needs you, and those things happen. But if you don’t have to be on your phone, don’t.
You get precious little time to groom your people. Do that instead of facebook. Do that instead of snapchat, unless you are playing with snapchat together, cause that is kinda fun sometimes. But they want you around. Probably more so than any other people on the whole dang planet. In fact, I guarantee it. You might have a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, or heck even that office, but I can promise you they don’t love you like your child. It isn’t even close either.
Spend the time where it is the most valuable and beneficial, and that is with them. Grab some cards, or head over to Books-A-Millions and grab Skip Bo, UNO, one of their bazillion board games, or some books, and have a good time.
5. Make Nothing A Contest Between You And Them
Being a parent is not some kind of test. It is something you chose when you either tried to have offspring, or rolled the dice on that. Stop competing with them. You guys are a team!
Work together. In order to work together their must be a few key factors in having a successful relationship.
The first one is communication. We talked about the way you speak to your child becomes their inner voice in this prior post, but it also sets the tone for your relationship with them. You are not their boss, you are their guardian. If you spend some time together working through issues, you will find you and your family do have similar goals. You all want to advance together. If you don’t there is a bigger problem that this post can’t really help you with.
When people have contests, they are usually in opposition to each other instead of working together, and that is where you want to be with your family. I know deep down everyone who has a family does, even if they are not there right now. Doing some of these things can help you get back headed in the right direction to where positive things can happen!
This is part one of How To Be Genuine With Your Children. Here is a link to the address for How To Be Genuine With Your Children – Part 2 which will be will be out later this week. I feel like this post was not as funny as I had hoped, but it was very important to me.
When we work with our families as a unit, all of these characteristics are very important. Being honest, trustworthy, working together and getting to know each other better, are all key aspects of healthy family relationships.
We get 18 years to groom, hands on, our children. We will some after that, but it isn’t the same. Let’s work super hard to be a genuine with them as we can so that they not only feel good about learning from us, but we can take pride in the job we did as parents!