Friday, March 11, 2011

Seeing Through Sticks

So there's this story in the Bible about these two guys, Jacob and Laban, who made a deal about some livestock. They divided a shared herd between them, Jacob taking the spotted sheep and Laban taking the solid sheep. They decided that whatever spotted sheep were born to either flock in the future would go to Jacob and whatever solid ones came along would go to Laban. When all the sheep were separated it turned out that Jacob had less sheep that Laban.

Jacob didn't whine, nag or harass Laban about this deficit, he did something about it. Jacob collected sticks, shoved them in the mud between his flock and Laban's a watched Laban's herd, imagining the solid coloured sheep were now striped and therefore his. He spent days and weeks thinking of all the striped little lambs those solid sheep were going to have. He was hoping for, seeing in his mind and planning for something that was not yet true. And it paid off, Laban's herd sired a whole generation of healthy, beautiful spotted sheep.

The point of me sharing this little story is that sometimes as parents we wait for our kids to be the well behaved, obedient respectful, responsible children we want them to be. We nag, harass, embarrass, yell and threaten them into (hopefully) submission but what we get is a fear based reaction rather than a lasting change of attitude and behavior.

I am not naturally a patient person and when I speak, especially to the kids, I like to know that they heard me by seeing an immediate and obedient response. Realistically folks, that hardly ever happened, especially if I resorted to yelling at them. So when we moved to this new house I decided that I was going to change my approach. I was going to treat them as though they were already the type of people I wanted hem to be.

Now seven months later I have to say that the difference is amazing.  I saw the type of kids I wanted to have and I spoke to them as if they were already kind and respectful, I encouraged them, thanked them and appreciated the efforts they made and they lived up to my esteem. I raised the bar and they jumped higher. I have spotted sheep! They are more respectful, more helpful and more responsible than they have ever been.

Plant your sticks, talk to your sheep as though they are already spotted and see the difference!

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