I’ve been asked to be on the Vacation Bible School committee. I sort of hate VBS. Not quite sure why… canned curriculum? wondering how I would feel as a non-Christian to have a church inviting my kids to be evangelized? assembly of identical crafts? I don’t know.
I’m not quite sure what being on the committee would entail. Not teaching, though. But if it involves having to call people to ask them to teach or serve in some other way, or call people to invite their kids, I will run away fast.
Kids need unconditional love. They need to feel sure that they are loved no matter how they behave, how they feel, what they think, what they choose, what they say.
So do I.
1. Crying, whining, and yelling are not pleasant to listen to. If someone I love needs to cry, whine, or yell once in a while, I can usually be there with them in love. If someone cries, whines, or yells a lot, multiple times in a day, every day, I get to where I don’t want to be with that person very much, and also I get to where I’m so sensitive to it that even the least hint of crying, whining, or yelling will set me off.
I understand that this is true for me with other people, too. That the more I cry, whine, and yell, the less my friends will be able to be with me in love.
Only God can tolerate my crying, whining, and yelling to the fullest extent that I can dish it out. He never feels threatened, bored, or frustrated by it. It never makes him want me to go away.
It’s not that I need to stop crying, whining, and yelling, nor that I need to stop feeling the feelings that make me want to cry, whine, and yell. But I do need to choose wisely when and how I express these feelings, and not put a God-sized burden on my friends and family.
I would like Amy to know God this way. To know — in a real and satisfying way — that God does not share those limits and is not provoked in that way.
I would also like her to know how to manage the expression of her feelings — I’m not really sure how to go about teaching this to her. She isn’t an adult and shouldn’t be given adult-sized affect management teaching. But she isn’t a baby anymore either, and I don’t think it’s fair to expect us as her parents to just let her cry, whine, and yell whenever she feels like it — and for us to sit there and take it all in.
In most of my therapy, it’s been emphasized that feelings are not subject to moral judgment. What you feel is what you feel, and that’s okay. The expression is a different story — there are appropriate times and places for certain kinds of expression of feelings.
Is it really true — entirely? Some writers and speakers talk about how we ought to feel, not in an effort to get us to change our feelings, as if we could in our own power, but to show us the extent of our fallenness. Mark points out that, in a marriage for example, it’s not enough to do the right things — what husband or wife would be satisfied with a spouse that didn’t have any feelings for him or her? Again, not that we should expect the infatuation stage to last, but that there should be something more than mere duty. One hopes that by practicing duty, and by asking in prayer, the proper affections would grow.
How much “right” does Amy have to be so terribly upset when it’s time to get ready for bed? (Despite advance warning.) Or about other things that happen quite often, like getting “no” in answer to a request? Is there some magical age or stage when she’ll make peace with these things? How can we help her best — I don’t think it’s helpful to just allow unlimited crying, whining, and yelling about it. And I don’t think it’s helpful to allow her no expression of feelings or no feelings at all. How can we help her feel secure in our love, understand and accept the painful reality of bedtime and “no,” feel her feelings without pressure to deny or squelch them, and make steps toward more appropriate expression of those feelings?
(This is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to have helpful conversation about parenting or so many other things — it’s so easy to identify and avoid extremes, and identify and affirm ideals (like unconditional love and firm boundaries), but much harder to articulate and know how it all works out in practice.)
And? One more little thing?
Can someone teach her to hurry when it’s time to hurry, to focus on a task when it’s time to do something — to understand and accept the difference between play / free time (when I love to notice everything and follow distractions with her) and time when we need to move quickly or do something with focus?
Oh, and I almost forgot — can I have a week off, please?