My Most Recent Parenting Blunder
I just decided to look up the word “blunder” since it is the word that seems most appropriate for this parenting mishap, and according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, blunder means “a stupid or careless mistake.” Yep, that captures this situation in a nutshell!
About 2 weeks ago some friends and I were about to watch a movie called The Hunger Games. Have you seen it? If not go here to learn about the premise of the movie – basically, kids and teenagers have to kill each other to live. These movies are very well done, but the storyline is a bit jarring. So back to my blunder….my 8 year old son (almost 9…if that helps my case any?!?!) wanted to watch the movie with us. He often loves to watch things with my friends and me. I think he genuinely enjoys the shared experiences. When he first asked to watch it with us I was hesitant. I polled the room to see what others thought. The overall consensus was that he would be okay, though I think we were all a little hesitant! That still wasn’t enough for me. Then I thought about other movies he’s seen – Harry Potter, Star Wars, Home Alone (does this even count among the other movies listed?), and I began to think he could handle it. He and I talked briefly about the movie’s storyline and then jointly decided he could watch it with us. He was ecstatic!
Can you guess what happened? When the killing started it was too much for him. He announced, “This is too much for me. I’m gonna go to my room.” And he walked into his room, shut the door, and about 2 seconds later the crying began. Blunder.
He was very upset. While crying he said, “How could people do that to each other? How could the president guy get away with that? I just want to go get him and kill him. What he is doing is wrong. The people need to get together and get rid of him (pretty amazing considering that is exactly what happens in the story!).” He said many more statements like the ones I just wrote, and as I hugged him and listened I began to learn more about my son. Here’s the first thing I learned: My son loves justice and hates injustice. Immediately many instances flooded my mind of times when this character trait showed itself in his words and actions. It was a blessing to see this so clearly.
He also said this, “I am so mad at myself for choosing to watch that movie. I should have known better. It was too much for me.” After he said this my heart broke a little. I hated that he was taking responsibility for this decision when clearly I am the parent and I am the one who is in his life to protect him from making “blunder” types of decisions. So I immediately set the record straight and told him, “You are not to blame for this, I am. I am your mom. I am here to protect you, and I didn’t do my job very well with this decision. You are 8. You aren’t supposed know how to make decisions like this yet. But I am. And I messed this one up. Will you please forgive me? Please don’t be mad at yourself. If you need to be mad at anyone be mad at me.” His whole demeanor shifted. A weight had been lifted. The shift was as clear as day. He was relieved to be reminded about what is his responsibility and what is mine. He was allowed to be 8, and this was good for his soul!
So here is the other thing I learned: I will make blundering types of mistakes with my kids and its not the end of his world or mine. The mistake isn’t the most important thing, but how it’s handled IS!
So I think I’ll wait a few more years before trying to watch The Hunger Games again with my oldest son, but I am thankful to have learned so much about him through my blunder!
by: Lianne Johnson, LPC