Off the bat, I need to give credit where credit is due. The whole inspiration for this post came from here. At one point in his blog, he likens parents to blocks, and asks, "Are you a stumbling block, or a building block?" (I'm paraphrasing a little, not copying exactly.) Something about that really struck me.
What kind of block are you?
Are you a building block?
Do you build your children up? Do you play with them, encourage them, and rejoice over little things with them? Do you listen - really listen - to them? Do you comfort them, hug them, kiss them, and snuggle with them? Dads, do you color pictures in bright Pepto pink for your daughters or have tea parties with them? Moms, do you throw a football around or jump in mud puddles with your sons? Do you ask them how their day was on a regular basis? Do you help them with homework? Do you attend t-ball games, dance recitals, school concerts, and parent-teacher conferences with excitement? Do you roll around on the floor laughing with them? Do you let them hog your bed when they're sick or scared? Do you lovingly teach them right from wrong? Do you show them, by your own actions, how to be a kind, loving, responsible, tolerant, accepting person? Do you show them that you value their intelligence? Do you show them that you love them regardless of who they are, the challenges they face, or the mistakes they make? Are you nurturing their confidence and self-esteem? Are you teaching your sons what it means to be a "good man?" Are you teaching your daughters how to identify a good man, and stay away from those who are only out to take advantage of her or make her miserable? Are you comfortable letting your child be who they are, and make their own decisions, even if they differ from your own? Are you their parent on their terms, when they need you?
Are you a stumbling block?
Do you make your children fall down? Are you too tired at the end of the day to "tune in" to your kids? Do you get so tired of all the little things they want to talk about that you've reduced your enthusiasm to a courtesy "mm hmm" mumbled under your breath in response anymore? Is giving them eye contact and your undivided attention when they speak to you unnecessary? Do you ask them to respect your own personal space when they want to sit on your lap for comfort, hugs, kisses, and snuggles? Dads, are you too macho to let your daughters paint your fingernails for fear of your buddies heckling you about it? Moms, do you value your manicured nails and designer shoes too much to get dirty with your sons? Did your day go so horribly wrong that you just don't want to hear how your child's day went? Do you assume they'll figure everything out on their own if they stare at their homework long enough, so you never bother stepping in to ask if they need help? Do you inwardly - or outwardly - groan at the thought of sitting through another "boring" game, recital, or school event, because you have better things you could be doing? Do you think its totally stupid to roll around on the floor with your kids just for the heck of it? Do you like your own sleep and personal space too much to invite your child into your bed when they're having a rough night? Are you so inflexible in your thinking that your child won't learn to be fully trusting, kind, respectful, loving, thoughtful, or responsible? Are you so set in your own ways and principles that your child feels afraid of your opinion of who they are, the challenges they face, or the mistakes they make? Are you reinforcing their feelings of insecurity and inadequacy? Are you teaching your sons to be "macho men," who can never show emotion and or do anything "sensitive" for fear of your - and societal - mockery and/or displeasure? Are you unwilling to fully accept your child if they become anyone different than who you want them to be? Are you their parent on your terms, and when and how - and only when and how - you feel like it?
Be honest with yourself. Really, really honest.
I fully understand none of us are perfect parents, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses. But ask yourself, what kind of block do you want to be? And what are you doing to ensure that you are that kind of block? Or are you saying you want to be a building block, but your actions are consistently those of a stumbling block?
Why do you think we have so many hurting, struggling, insecure, ill-adjusted, disrespectful, unkind, abused, and abusive kids out there who think their parents don't care one iota about them? Maybe because too many of us are stumbling blocks, and we don't realize it. Or worse, we do realize it, and we think its okay! In order to feel better about our own parental shortcomings, we compare ourselves to Joe Schmoe The Dead-Beat Dad, and in comparison, look like parent of the year. So we justify selling our kids short, because at least we're not as bad as HIM!
But here's the thing... We can never sell our kids short of what we are ultimately capable of being to them! I'm not saying we have to be perfect, but when our kids need us, we need to be there!
And just being there physically has nothing to do with it! You can be in the presence of your kids without filling them up. You don't build your kids up by osmosis.
Its like a water pitcher sitting on a table. It doesn't fill glasses just by sitting there. It takes some action. You have to take action to be a good parent. You have to take action to be a building block! You have to "pour into" your kids; emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And what happens if you hold out on "pouring into" them with your emotional, mental, and spiritual responses? Their cup sits empty and they get thirsty!
Our kids are thirsting for us to "pour into" them. To build them up, and help them grow and tap into their limitless potential. Yes, I said, limitless! The only limiting factor is us, if we let ourselves be stumbling blocks and not building blocks.
A building block becomes part of a greater structure. It becomes the foundation, or the support beams, or the roof...a part of the greater good.
A stumbling block just lies around, getting in the way.
So... What kind of block are YOU?