So many times, it’s the last 10% left undone as a parent that will kill or at least seriously injure the other 90% of the work you have done.
You raise a child to search a matter out for themselves, but you never taught them how to speak loud and clear…so their opinions, no matter how intelligible they are, go unheard.
You spend all that time and money to educate them, but because of their poor posture or annoying personal habits, whatever educated people you put them in front of are left distracted by said habits and your child never gets invited back over for dinner.
That way too loud laugh. That’s a way to make sure your dear daughter never gets a date.
The “style” your child thinks is soooo cool. But you know it looks horrible. It communicates something they don’t even know it says.
Reminds me of this funny little habit Crickie had. She was three years old and all kinds of adorable. She looooooves to point things out. Literally. But there’s just ooooooone thing wrong. She points with the wrong finger. She uses her middle finger.
Now, the older girls and I smile and have tried to remind her to use the first finger…aptly called the pointer finger! But a gentle reminder never worked. She had no idea why using her middle finger was wrong so she just stuck with it. Until finally, I sat down with her and explained that pointing her middle finger means something VERY rude. I told her that every time she pointed that finger at someone or something, it meant she hated that person or thing. And once I explained it, she never did it again.
This is why, many times over in parenting, you will have frank discussions, wrapped in love, truth, grace and understanding about what is and isn’t appropriate. Why their manners are so important. Why blinking incessantly or wrinkling their nose strangely or even tapping their fingers constantly is just a bad habit. I even knew this kid once that constantly juggled things when you talked to him. All of 16 years old and I finally had to tell him to STOP IT. Grabbed the cup he kept flipping around and smacked his hand with it. He was stunned…but after that day and my explanation, he never did it again. Why on earth hadn’t his parents told him that years ago?
Mom and Dad, don’t think junior will outgrow dressing awkwardly. You will have to have a kind but frank discussion about it. No way your little sweetheart will ever just learn to sit up straight…you must be honest and correct her posture. I have been known to pick up my phone and discreetly take photos of the children when their posture is bad, their expression is off, or their bad habits sneak up. I capture it on video, and send it to them in a text that right underneath says, “I love you.” I take photos of people around town or even use newspaper photos and ask the kids to tell me what they see or think about the person pictured…I ask them to give me their impression just based on that snapshot. It has taught them to be very aware of their habits and overcome many of the challenges that can negatively influence other’s opinions. We’ve even had “smile practice” for photos!
Character training…vital. Education…very important. But the small details, that last 10%…cannot go undone! You may have raised an incredible gift, but without the final beautiful wrapping paper, many people may overlook the awesome person you have raised. It takes a loving parent and one who is looking to give their child the very best start in life to actually pay attention enough and then have the guts to say it and and the gall to make them change. Be that parent. Finish the job. 110%.