Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Sneakers

From Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart:

Imagine this scenario: Your child is putting on his new sneakers. You knew last night when you bought them that he was not really happy with them, but they were the only ones you could afford. Now, as he is getting ready for school,he is crying. How are you going to handle this one? If your objective is to let him know what you think, you may say something like this:

"Look, I don't know you don't like the sneakers, but that's all I could afford. Don't be such a baby. What would Jared say if I told him you were crying over something like this? They're just going to get messed up anyway. In a couple of days no one will know what they look like. What do you care about what those kids think about your sneakers? Who made them the experts anyhow? You should be thankful you even have them. Those sneakers you don't like cost more than my first car. Look, I have to go to work; I have more important things to worry about than sneakers ..."

Now, if your primary objective is to understand the child's internal struggles, you could have a conversation like this:

PARENT: You're upset about the sneakers, aren't you?
CHILD: Yeah.
PARENT: I didn't think you liked them when we bought them last night. You didn't want to tell me, did you?
PARENT: What don't you like about them?
CHILD: They look stupid.
PARENT: I don't know what you mean.
CHILD: Jared says they look stupid.
PARENT: When did Jared see them? We just got them last night.
CHILD: Chris got a pair just like this and Jared told everybody in class that he looked like a dweeb.
PARENT: What's a dweeb? Oh, never mind. What looks dweeby about those sneakers?
CHILD: This red strip on the back. They don't put red stripes on the the new ones. They're last year's shoes---that's why they were only $87.98.
PARENT: Oh, I see. You're afraid that they will call you a dweeb today, right?
CHILD: Yeah.
PARENT: That really hurts, doesn't it?
CHILD: Yeah, I don't know why they should care about what my shoes are like, but I know they'll call me a dweeb.
What are you learning? Your child is struggling with feelings that you can identify with. There is a genuine pressure out there in his third-grade classroom. He is feeling the pressure to be approved by his peers. This circumstance is bringing out the hopes and fears of his heart.

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