When our second-born son “graduated” from preschool, the teachers offered an optional parent/teacher meeting to glean their observations about your child’s learning readiness etc. I was pretty curious what his teacher would say, so I signed up with a lot of questions in mind. Two years later, I STILL crack.up.laughing. when I think of what she told me.

He received overall high marks and certainly showed Kindergarten readiness. But her most critical thing that she had to offer me (I asked for it) was that he was “sort of bossy”. I had to bite my lip when she told me this because of all I know about my amazing middle child. She went on to explain how he micromanages the play going on in the room, how he acts as “rules police” to the other students and is quick to point out whenever someone is incorrect (i.e. that girl is saying the ball is blue but that ball is CLEARLY green).

She was so right about him doing those things- and it hasn’t really changed. I’ve read “The Birth Order Book” in hopes to better understand him and to figure out why he acts like he does. I think that the truth is more that he is a child in a home FULL of first-borns (his mother, father and brother all) and until recently, he was the one getting left out of things because he was too young/little to participate.

Those tables are beginning to turn with the addition of his sister (competition) and with some work on instilling more of a “worry-about-yourself” and “take responsibility for your own stuff” ideology for him. I see so much of myself in him and that’s hard! It reminds me how clearly I remember my little sister harping on me that I was SO. BOSSY. when we were growing up. She still laughs and teases me about it.

I’ve embraced my bossiness in a whimsical way and I hope I can teach him to open up that tight fist of control. The hardest lessons I learned were that #1. I can only control my own response and #2. good teachers replicate themselves.

However the challenge for me now is how do my husband and I as parents take this leadership capability and help our son develop those skills so that he can grow from bossy to great leader?

From where we sit right now, I think all the glory will have to go to God. Parenting is one doozie of a journey!

Learning To Believe the Best

I vividly remember my best friend telling me these words shortly after I was married; “Tiffany, sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it”. I was whining to her after a few months of my own wedded bliss. She had one WHOLE YEAR up on me in this marriage thing.  I was frustrated with my love (unmet expectations, what?) and asking her for help. She told me to be an encouragement to my spouse even on the days when I literally had nothing nice to say. Those days come to other people too, right?

Yes, she told me to fake it till you make it. She told me that sometimes, as wives we can be overly-critical of our spouses. We see in one another all of our deepest faults. As we live life together, we are perpetually exposed to all those weaknesses within one another and frankly, we’re all annoying at some point or another in life.  Yes, even me. Yes, even you. She told me the way out is to speak words of kindness. She told me the way out is to find even the tiniest speck of goodness and blow it up big with celebration.

Now, to my newly-wed self, I couldn’t help but think “BUT I WILL BE LYING!”.  “Come on Tiffany, you married the guy for sound reasons. You aren’t lying, you’re pre-gaming.” She’s smart that one…

This past summer my husbando and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. We even gave it a hash tag, #lucky13; we’re silly-strange like that.

The heart of this advice is still ringing true in our marriage. There are even more times now that we have to do the hard work of re-positioning our thoughts; because it is so true that our own perspective can make all the difference in the world.

Later on in marriage, perhaps around year 7 or so, we read a book called “Love and Respect”. The author, Eggerichs, called it believing the best in your spouse. That sounds a lot more lovely than fake it till you make it. He explains that whenever we start spiraling down in our mind into anger or resentment, bitterness or frustration, that the way back out again is to believe the best in our spouse. Focus on the goodness and the love that you share between the two of you and make the active choice to believe that your spouse is not intentionally harming you, annoying you, or frustrating you. This mutual kindness goes a long way towards squashing the gunk that can build up in our hearts.

I’ve found that this truth applies to a lot of other relationships too, not just in marriage. In our culture we hear a cry for authenticity in all that we do and often that translates into this brutal sort of honesty that does nothing more than tear down and destroy what has been built so painstakingly. I believe that love is a choice. We are capable of moving our hearts and heads into alignment more than we realize. Believing the best in another person and emphasizing the smallest glimpse of good we see in them has a lot of power. We can change an entire day for someone else by choosing to love even the hard-to-love people.

So try it out this week in that relationship you are wrestling through. Believe the good. Keep good boundaries and be clear for your part of the communication and relationship and search out for what is good.