Love is patient.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Confession: whenever I see my son’s Legos on the floor I have the urge to step on them and crush them underfoot just to make the point that he needs to pick up his toys. I’m pretty sure that’s terrible parenting, but the thought goes through my head. Every. Single. Time.
Is my 10 year-old son old enough to take responsibility for his own toys? Of course he is. It’s just that angrily destroying his belongings isn’t the best way to instill a greater sense of responsibility in him.
There’s a term for behaviors like crushing Legos just to teach a lesson. It’s called being “passive-aggressive” which basically means you don’t address the person or problem directly, but you do or say something indirect that undermines the person or situation.
Passive-aggressive behavior is never a good idea in any relationship–parenting included. Here’s why:
- It isn’t actually addressing the problem in a way that is likely to get the desired result.
- Quite often, it is so subtle as to get no result.
- In many cases passive-aggressive behavior makes the situation worse.
- It just isn’t nice.
So, if it is such a bad idea, then why do I want so badly to crush those crazy bricks to bits? Well, honestly, because it is easier to avoid addressing it head on. Because really, the problem is bigger than just a few Legos left out.
You know the old adage, “a place for everything and everything in its place”? Well, there isn’t actually a place for everything–let alone all the Legos–in our home.
There are a lot of reasons why there isn’t a place for all the Legos.
- My son’s room is still half-filled with boxes from our move two years ago.
- It is hard to find good Lego storage methods that work for us.
- My husband and I probably let our son have too many Legos and it is hard to find places for that many.
If you’ll notice, all of those problems are due to factors that are at least in part my responsibility. So, to actually address the Legos left on the floor problem, I would have to take responsibility.
It’s important to me as a parent to own my responsibility in the situation. It would be way easier just to get angry and blame and shame my kid for the problem. But it’s not fair and it’s not nice and it doesn’t solve anything.
I’d love to be able to sit here and tell you that since I know I’m part of the problem, I am going to mend my ways and be part of the solution. But really, really, really, clutter just makes me want to run and hide.
I hope to make progress over time and work with my son to find solutions, but I will be patient with him as I need him to patient with me.
It’s not easy being the grown up.
But I am the adult, I am the parent! I don’t want to be a bad parent, so even if I’m not the best at all the details, I won’t actually crush the Legos when I find them on the floor.
Disclaimer: No Legos were crushed in the digitization of the photograph that appears with this post. It was staged for illustration purposes only.