Anyone who has raised kids or is in the process of raising kids can attest to the fact that parenting isn't easy. Kids don't come with instruction manuals, and there are literally hundreds of "experts" that give conflicting advice about how to not screw the whole thing up.
But every once in a while, a parenting story comes along that we can all look at and say, "Ah, yes! THAT'S what parenting should look like."
Though the origin is unclear, Facebook user Renee Yancey's shared a screenshot of the story, which has now been shared from her page more than 88,000 times.
"I just witnessed a boy, maybe about 6 or 7, accidentally spill a slushee everywhere. I'm talking blue and red goop all over the floor, the table, everywhere. The boy looked up at who I assume was his father, and apologized. Instead of getting angry, his father just said 'Hey, it happens. Let's go get napkins and I can show you how to clean it up.' Then they calmly went to get napkins and then he helped him clean the entire mess. Then, as they were throwing the napkins away, the father said to his son, 'You're going to be a human being for a long time, and you have such a smart brain that it's important you learn how to be more aware of what you're doing. So next time just be sure to pay more attention to your surroundings so accidents like this don't happen. Accidents like these can be prevented, but it's still okay if they happen. As long as you take responsibility for your mistakes, the clean up is a breeze.'
I have no words. That is parenting done right."
The story is simple on the surface, and for some it may not seem like anything earth-shattering.
But when you're in the day-to-day thick of parenting, it's not always that simple. It's easy to forget that our kids are just learning how to be. It's easy to lose our patience or express frustration when they make a mess that could have been prevented. It's easy to think that we just need to have them clean up messes themselves to teach them a lesson. It's easy to rush through fixing a mistake and forget to talk through the lessons that can be learned from it.
But this dad hit all the right notes with his reaction. He remained calm and patient. He showed his kid how to fix his mess, and modeled compassion and helpfulness in the process. He let his son know how to try to prevent such things from happening, but also let him know that it's not the end of the world if it does. He made cleaning up just the right thing to do as opposed to an embarrassing consequence, and gave his son the big picture in addition to helping him handle this specific incident.
He cleaned up the mess with his son. He didn't make him do it by himself, and he didn't do it for him. To me, that says to a child, "Hey, sometimes stuff happens that we don't plan for, but I'm here to help you work your way through it." He gave his son the big picture, in addition to helping him handle this specific incident. He empowered and encouraged him while teaching him how to take responsibility.
Well done, dad. What a wonderful world it would be if all parents took a page out of your book.
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