“Hey Dad, can you help me with something?” I didn’t realize when my 10-year old asked me this question last Saturday morning that the answer would take up the rest of the day and hurt both of us in different ways. I was folding laundry when she called me from the other room, because well… laundry. Anyhow, she came out and told me that she had a problem with her earring. Before looking at it, I thought, “Why would she ask me? Does she know that I formerly had not only an earring, but also dashingly stylish blonde highlights in my hair?” What else does this girl know about me? She said that something went wrong with the back of the earring when she was taking it out, so I turned her ear around to find that the earring back was literally INSIDE her ear lobe! My tummy turned, because I basically get light-headed at the sight of blood… or an earring stuck inside a lobe. I calmly told her that we would take care of this and that she would be fine. I internally said, “OH MY GAWSHHH!”
I knew right away that there was no way we could do this ourselves, so Reese and I got on the phone with Marcia on the advice line, who made us an appointment later that afternoon. It’s a good thing that Marcia said that she had raised girls and that had happened to them, because I was thinking (not saying), “I bet it’s going to get infected and they’ll just cut her lobe off!” We went in to the doctor after having lunch together and they had seen worse, of course. Reese was nervous and it was painful as they numbed her ear, then wiggled the piece out with a tool that looked like something from my garage. I sat with her, held her hand, and told her she was brave. At the end, a bandage went on and we got in the car, just wanting to go home.
After all of this, I drove away from the hospital very proud of my daughter and happy that she would ask me to help her. I don’t need to be the ONLY person she asks for help, but I should be ONE OF the people she asks for help. Frankly, I hope she has many of these people in her life, if they are caring, wise, and Godly. Although I want her to be independent, I also want her to know that she has safe places and people where she can get trusted advice, guidance, and hugs.
As our kids get older, how can we stay open to them? How can we be one of the main places they will come when they need answers? I believe that how we act and react today answers those questions. If our kids are to see us as a safe place to confide:
- We can’t over-react. They may tell us difficult, ridiculous, or heartbreaking things. This is not when we yell, storm out of the room, or get over-involved trying to “fix” their situation. We have to stay calm and listen despite what we feel inside.
- We can’t be harsh. Staying calm means not always bring the hammer down when we have the option to. It doesn’t mean that we forsake the rules of our home, but we can be kind in enforcing those rules. Harshness and kids is a bad combo.
- We can’t be uncaring. If our kids think we are distant or don’t care, why would they see us as a place to ask for answers? They will ask for those answers somewhere else. We need to make sure our relationships with them are warm and real.
There is much more to come in life for these sweet kids of ours- emotional, spiritual, social things. While they continue to grow through different parts of their lives, we are committed to doing our very best to be caring, warm, and calm. Then, our home can be a place where our kids can always say, “Hey Dad, can you help me with something?”