Posts tagged “behavior

There Is Something About Grandparents

Grandma Maggie and Charlie, who is several hours old in this picture. (Charlie, that is.)

Grandma Maggie and Charlie, who is several hours old in this picture. (Charlie, that is.)

Yesterday was truly a birth day, as my daughter gave birth to my second grandson yesterday afternoon. (Sometimes you hear people say, “I wasn’t born yesterday,” but Charley can’t say that. He was born yesterday.) As you can imagine, it was a day of joy, celebration, love and belonging, thankfulness, and, yes, there was some concern mixed in there, too. It was so good to have mother and son healthy and cuddled together following the procedure’s successful conclusion.

Given that my grandchildren will be doubling in number, I thought it might be appropriate to think about the role of grandparents, and more specifically, how grandparents, when it comes to loving and supporting children, seem to “get it right.” Grandparents have in common that this is our second go-around with the whole “little people thing.” It’s like we’ve been given another chance to get it right when it comes to kids, or at least get it better. We learned some stuff the first time around and now is a chance, as summarized in the following list, to show what we know.

We are MORE RELAXED
We have seen it all. We survived our children and a host of their dramas, some of them real (Ok, some of them very real). We realize the journey is doable, though, and that life goes by faster than you think. Now we want to live in and enjoy the moment.

We SAVOR THE RELATIONSHIP
We recognize the importance of the relationship, and we are careful to not let children’s little mistakes and learning blunders threaten our connection with them. We are more apt to live in the moment and treasure the many ways in which children grow and mature. We are less concerned about controlling children and more aware that they are in the process of becoming who they will be.

We are MORE FOCUSED ON IDENTITY, RATHER THAN ROLL
We seem to accept that children aren’t placed on earth to fulfill our job descriptions. It is so easy for parents to want to have their own needs met through the accomplishments of their children. Children can hear early in life about the kind of role – doctor, administrator, Indian chief, etc. – they are expected to fill in society. Grandparents have learned that helping children form a healthy self-identity is much better than pressuring them into a certain role in life. Coming into a sense of your identity, of who you are and what you stand for, as a child is way better than postponing this process into adulthood. I know people in their 50s that are still desperate for this kind of self-knowledge.

We DISCIPLINE DIFFERENTLY
Well, actually we don’t discipline much at all. We joke about getting to do all the fun stuff with the grandchildren without the headaches of discipline that parents have to deal with. There is truth in this joking, but the joking hides the fact that we discipline differently, too. It’s not that we ignore bad behavior in our grandchildren. We just keep things in perspective in ways that we didn’t the first time around with our own children. We strategically overlook some behaviors, gently deal with others, and for the behaviors that just can’t be ignored we confront them in a way that will not harm our relationship.

We SEEK TO BE NEED-SATISFYING
We get accused of giving too much stuff to our grandchildren, having too much fun with them, being willing to help them in any way at the drop of a hat, and being too interested in them. Guilty. What we are is grandkid-centric. It’s not about spoiling kids. They can see through that. It’s about love and support. We literally give ourselves to them. We love to hear about our grandchildren, talk about them, show pictures of them to others, and most of all, spend time with them.

Not all grandparents are into choice theory, but choice theory gives us insight into a lot of grandparents. Grandparents have a patience and a flexibility when it comes to their grandchildren that a lot of first time parents would do well to emulate. Here’s to parents who can show up like grandparents!

We WANT to Feel Good, Pt. 2

Refund check

In this post we will cover the WANT part of the phrase – We Want to Feel Good.

The income tax refund sat on the kitchen counter dwarfing the rest of the mail and beckoning for someone to come up with a way to spend it. Jack and Jill Hill, marriage partners for 12 years and the recipients of said check, are each beginning to lock in on a vision for its use. Jack, ever the romantic, envisions a get-away vacation to an exotic location; Jill, on the other hand, envisions something closer to home, like say, a new couch. As they tinkered in the kitchen, part putting groceries away and part putting something together for supper, Jack found himself assuming that Jill’s lack of excitement regarding a trip meant that time together wasn’t important to Jill – in fact, he wasn’t important to her.  At the same time, Jill found herself assuming that Jack didn’t understand that her home was an important reflection of herself.  She wanted it to be beautiful and was embarrassed by the stained, sagging couch they had had since they got married.  Not only does Jack not care about my feelings, he doesn’t really care about me.

One of the ingenious elements of choice theory is a place in our brains called the quality world. Not only ingenious, it may be the most important element of all the pieces that make up the choice theory model. Its genius lies in the simple way it describes the complex process of why we do what we do. Understanding the concept of the quality world, especially our own personal quality worlds, leads to understanding what motivates us.

Ted Miller, who teaches Math at a high school near you, is frustrated that only a few of his 2nd period students seem to care about doing well in his class. Hector is one of those students. It’s like it satisfies a need inside of him when he does well in class. Gavin, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite. He cuts up and clowns around in class constantly. It’s like .  .  . (a light bulb is about to go on in Ted Miller’s head), it’s like it satisfies a need inside of him when he gets attention for being the clown.

As said before, every person is born with a unique set of basic needs, but unlike many animals, humans do not arrive with a set of instructions as to how to meet those needs. From birth, human beings begin to learn how to meet their need for purpose and meaning, love and belonging, power and achievement, freedom and autonomy, joy and fun, and survival and safety. A behavior that results in a need being met is then stored as a picture in our personal quality world. This picture book is like a scrapbook in our heads in which we store the people, places, activities, beliefs, and things that help us meet one or more of the needs or that brings us a greater feeling of control. We put these behavioral pictures into our mental scrapbooks; we can also take pictures out of our scrapbooks. In other words, this process is purposeful.

Karina just about slams the plastic mixing bowl into a sink already cluttered with other mixing bowls from the supper she has created. She got the idea for a special meal this evening as everyone was headed out the door, scattershot, to school, to work, quick yells of good-by thrown over shoulders, earlier that morning. She planned the menu throughout the day. They needed to be together more as a family she thought. Now, as her husband finished mowing the lawn and her kids lingered in their rooms upstairs, the food was getting cold on a beautifully set table. A dish towel clenched in one hand, a serving spoon clenched in the other, Karina fumed as she pondered how to convey her anger.

It is important to understand that putting and keeping a behavioral picture in our quality world creates a target that we want the events in our lives to hit, or put more accurately, that we want the significant people in our lives to hit on our behalf. Putting a behavioral picture in our quality world is like setting a thermostat for a certain temperature. The thermostat monitors whether or not the desired temperature is present. If it isn’t it sends a signal to a heater or an air conditioner to do their thing. The temperature is the focus; that preset level of cool or warm becomes the target to achieve and maintain. Similarly, by putting a picture in our quality world we have formed a picture of the expected behavior of others, we have formed, at least in our mind, the way events or circumstances must go. Like the thermostat, when our quality world pictures aren’t fulfilled we send a signal to another place in our brain, the behavioral center, to do something about it. This moment, the moment when we are urged to do something often involves us trying to change the behavior of another person so that he or she will show up in a way that matches our preset picture. The behavioral center, though, we will save for another time.

For now, just think about the quality world pictures you have in your own brain. Some of those pictures are wonderful, like a relationship with a grandchild or an accomplishment at work, and lead to personal needs being satisfied. Other of our pictures, though, like expectations we have of a spouse or the way we want other drivers to navigate the road around us, are the cause of a lot of frustration and even anger. When an unmet need is important enough, given time, it can lead to emotional and physical distress. It is easy to get in the habit of thinking that these quality world pictures, these expectations, just arrived in our head somehow, almost like we are the victim of an expectation. Choice theory explains that rather than being a victim, we intentionally place certain pictures in our head for a reason. Understanding the quality world process can go a long way toward releasing the pressure within us and putting a smile back on our face.

————————————————–

I encourage you to FOLLOW the blog and become a part of The Better Plan community. Remember to let colleagues and friends know of The Better Plan blog, too. Just enter   thebetterplan.org   and you’re there.

Keep in mind that the Soul Shapers workshops at Pacific Union College will take place next month.

Soul Shapers 1   June 17-20

Soul Shapers 2   June 24-27

Sign up for summer courses at PUC at:  www.puc.edu/summer-teacher

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: