Have you ever been frustrated with your children when they don’t help or clean up after themselves? Are you tired of nagging them to pick up their mess? You’re not alone! Dr. Tim teaches that how parents see their children matters more in these situations than how the kids (or the parents) act. Watch Dr. Tim’s video to learn more.
Hey there, folks! Dr. Tim here from Family Good Things. Just reporting live (as if you’re watching this live, this isn’t Facebook Live). It just seems like I’m supposed to say that, because that’s what news people do. Dr. Tim reporting live from Channel 5 . . . I don’t know. This isn’t live. This is just a video I’m recording.
I’m in Mesa, Arizona. As you can see, I’m sweating profusely. I’ve been out in 110 degree temperature walking around. I’m also repping Porn Kills Love, which is Fight the New Drug, our friends over there. They do tremendous things in helping us understand the harms of pornography to the individual, to relationships, and to society at large.
But that’s not what this video’s about. I’m here with my wife. Well, she’s not here right now, but we’re in Arizona because I’m working with a couple different organizations that are doing phenomenal things. The first one is NAFFA. It stands for the Native American Fatherhood and Families Association.
I first came in contact with them when I was recently at the United Nations. Well, last March. I was speaking there and I met Mark, who works with NAFFA, and they do tremendous things.
They’re working with hundreds of tribes across the country, native American tribes, strengthening fatherhood and families within those tribes. They have rock a solid program, and more and more people are flocking to it. They’ve asked me to work with them to help it with research, and making the program even stronger, and I’m just honored to be part of it.
So I came down here because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me, and for my students who may intern there, work for them as well.
Second organization is called the Anasazi Foundation. It’s a wilderness therapy program that was started back in the . . . I want to say 80s, working with troubled teens, but also troubled parents. Many times when people think of a troubled teen, they think the teen is troubled by themselves, or the child’s behavior is just the child’s issue. I think Anasazi gets it, and they get it really well.
So the teens go out in the wilderness for several weeks, living off the land and learning more about life, and meanwhile, back at headquarters, here in Mesa, the parents are getting instructed on tremendous principles that are paradigm shifters. In fact, their paradigm or their framework that they’ve used is from The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute. If you haven’t read that book, you need to. It’s one of the primary texts in my parenting class. Phenomenal book.
So I was meeting with them, picking their brain because I’m wanting to know how to make my parenting class better, especially as I’m creating it for online.
So on that note, while I’m sweaty and stinky — it’s a good thing smell doesn’t come through the speakers and through the screen. On that note, wanted to share just a couple things from The Anatomy of Peace, mostly just a personal experience I’ve had. And it’s something that you all experience every day.
A Clean Home
As a father of four children, I value . . . honestly, I value a clean home. I don’t . . . if you were to ask me, away from everything, I’d say, “Yes. I value my children much more than I value a clean home.” But it’s really easy to have something become bigger than our relationship with our children.
So, for instance, my wife had to go to a meeting for something, and I was home with the four children. And after she left, I was finishing cleaning up the dishes. And everybody has their own dish job, and they were doing it pretty good, whether it’s loading the dishwasher which is everybody’s least favorite, or setting the table, which is everybody’s most favorite.
I was rinsing the dishes and getting them ready to load in the dishwasher. And it was summertime — it is summertime, and so they’re wanting to go off and frolic outside and play. And these feelings . . . you have to be aware of your feelings.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
Lesson number one: always pay attention to your feelings, to what is welling up inside of your heart. These feelings of almost entitlement, of I deserve, like if I’m doing all of this work, I deserve children who will . . . you can fill in the blank. In this case, I went to the living room and it had just been destroyed. Not that big of a deal, but in that moment it became a bigger deal than it needed to be.
So, inside I was kind of warring toward them. And this is the moment you start to see your children as objects and not as people, meaning their desires and their agendas and their passions and their hopes and dreams and fears, they’re not legitimate. They’re just objects. They’re objects or obstructions in the way of your agenda, which in this case was a clean living room.
So, being a well-educated father about parenting, and being an “expert,” I matched my behavior to what I should say, even though inside I was warring at this room that had just been cleaned maybe an hour earlier. You all know this. Trying to clean your home while your children are growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. If you haven’t heard that phrase before, there you go.
So I asked them, and they started whining, and complaining. “It’s not my mess!” You guys know it. “It’s not my mess!” “She did that!”And then it’s all this accusing. And that only increased my feelings of, “Hey, I deserve you to clean this up because, after all I do for you . . .” You may not voice all these things, but that’s why you have to pay attention to these feelings. In The Anatomy of Peace they’re called justifications, sort of feeling why I was justified to have these feelings toward them.
And so my tone got more bite in it, and I increased my volume, and then it just invited more war and people were arguing with each other . . . We got the room cleaned up, but I’ll tell you what: the feeling in the home was not good, the feeling in my heart was not good, and they didn’t have good feelings about me.
So in essence, what happened was the living room, or the cleaning of the living room, became more important than my relationship, and really my way of being towards them, how I am towards them. And I guarantee you, your children know when they’re feeling like objects, when they’re being treated as that, when you see them as that.
Behavior Vs. Relationship
Now here’s a pointer. You have to read the book to really get this. In fact, you really need to read it several times, and you have to read it with a lot of meditating. Otherwise, you’ll just skip over these. “Oh, I don’t do that! I don’t do that.” One of the best things parents can do is spend time really pondering on when I keep running into problems — whether it’s your children eating their vegetables, cleaning up their room, bed time routines, anything else — what are my feelings like towards them and how do they perceive me perceiving them?
And if you pay attention to those feelings, you’ll start to see them more clearly and your love will help you have a more . . . a softer response, and you won’t jeopardize the relationship just for a dang room to get cleaned up, or somebody to get to bed on time.
We have to catch ourselves doing that. A lot of times we want to just use some behavioral tactic. What sort of punishment can I inflict? What sort of bribe can I give them? That doesn’t solve the problem that parents have internally. And that is, maybe I’m carrying around some sort of justification for being angry with my children or upset or . . . How come my children keep doing all these things? Or how come they . . . A lot of times we’re inviting those things by the way we see them.
Dealing with the Problem
I’m not trying to sound really philosophical, but that is absolutely one hundred percent true. So what did I do? I apologized to my children. The next day when that room needed to be cleaned up, I approached it from a much more loving way — and they were invited to join it.
And if that problem kept coming up, then we’d have to have a family meeting where I ask them questions to try to understand their perspective, because I see them as people, and their opinions are legitimate. It doesn’t mean they can get away with whatever they want, but I need to listen and learn, build my relationship, but most importantly I need to work on what’s in here.
Alright! Spend time reflecting, be honest with yourself, don’t let yourself off the hook just thinking that your children are always the problem. The problem is not the behavior. It’s always underneath behavior. Alright! See you next time!