Only A Moment

As school begins, Facebook is flooded with first day of school pictures. We strive to capture the moment as we remember it because we know how quickly a special moment like that gets lost in all the other moments that keep on occurring. It is a rapid-fire process just to watch our children grow and mature and become adults.

 

Conversations are also moments that can come in a rapid-fire fashion. While our kids are apparently staring into their electronic devices in the back seat, some incredible words sometimes escape their lips that will go right by us if we aren’t paying attention. All of the mundane, regular comments are sometimes seasoned by gems of wisdom or signs of a crisis. If we miss these moments, they are also likely to be gone forever, just like those first day of school moments.

On the other hand, some of these gems of crisis are not as dangerous as they might appear. The extreme language often chosen by a dramatic middle school student can wound or frighten a sensitive parent. We need to keep the antennae high but not allow it to be burned off by an occasional highly charged comment.

 

These gems of crisis push our buttons but sometimes represent only a fleeting thought that somehow makes its way to their lips without a filter. They might say, “I think I’ll quit band; I just don’t have time for it anymore.” Or they might say, “My teacher just doesn’t care at all about students; I wish I had a different one.”

 

A thoughtful parent seeks more information very carefully. Trying not to show the horror your heart may feel try making a simple request to bring out additional thoughts. You might completely change your conclusion if you just found a little more information. “Could you say a little more about that, please?” you might ask. Maybe they got into trouble for practicing too little this week and their quick assessment of band is to quit before they get into trouble again. As a parent, you might prefer they choose to practice more before you put their instrument on Craig’s List.

Comments about teachers or coaches are equally emotional. More information might reveal a single negative encounter that will blow away on its own without any major intervention from an irate parent. Asking for additional information might reveal that the teacher simply asked twice for an assignment that your child forgot to do. It doesn’t signal a lack of concern for students; in fact, it shows quite the opposite. Our children sometimes dramatize a routine event to cover their own failure or mistake. A wise parent gets more information before choosing to take any action on a single comment from the back seat of a car.

 

Special memories and normal conversations contain equal opportunities for those moments that we share. Treasure the special ones. Make sure to research the routine ones to separate the crises from the cries for help.

 
Dr. Matt Crain writes weekly for the Sunday newspaper from his Connecting Fathers and Families Ministry.