When grown-ups are having a hard time, the kids suffer. This is an unavoidable fact of parenting. So the question becomes a) how much do they suffer? and b) what can be gained from it?
We’ve had to be brutally honest with our children about what’s happening to their Grandma. We, of course, were very concerned about them as we made this decision. We proactively decided to just tell them the absolute truth, in language we think/hope they can understand, that Grandma is dying. Many detailed conversations have been had as the process has dictated. I have learned to cherish my ability to think on my feet because often these conversations are completely out of left field. Over the last several months my children have been both WONDERFUL and terrible.
We have a basic set of easy to follow ground rules in our family. If they were actually followed, life would be great for all of us. A short list: we don’t lie, we don’t steal, we don’t hit each other (but we learn how to defend/control situations), we pick up after ourselves (oh, to dream..), we don’t care what color a person’s skin, their choice of faith, etc. The earth does not swallow garbage, we use manners…OK, not really a “short” list, but you get the idea.
Today my son put his knee through the bathroom door–“brothers” thing. But absolutely not typical of this child. Last week, my other son left his bike in the driveway right behind a vehicle and someone backed over it. HELLO! How long has that been a rule?! Under ordinary circumstances, these offenses have some appropriate consequences–not overboard, just swift & just. We believe consistancy is a very important part of this.
So it boils down to the pot holes in the road we’re on. When you have no choice but to drive over a lot of big pot holes, you do certain things differently until you get back on level ground.
“Door hole” was a tearful conversation and “clean your hog sty of a room”. AND a phone call to Dad letting him know I have taken care of the situation. 😉 Bike was replace within 2 days and that one’s room is so bad he can’t sleep in there. Not quite how we drive on smooth pavement, but when we’re on the pot holes, we hang on tight and try not to break anything or bump into each other. So that covers a) how much do they suffer?
As for b) what can be gained from it? We know that our sons are living something they’re going to remember forever. We hope that one of the things they’ll remember is some of the really honest CONVERSATIONS we’ve had WITH them, the time we’ve taken to spend together when we can, and that we lightened up on them when times were tough and it was called for. We gave them room to be human. That’s got to count for something.
There will be smooth road again…and the rules of the road will apply.