Read all the child rearing books and they will tell you that most often when you have children, one will be the strong-willed child and another will be the compliant one. No such luck for me! I have been blessed with three variations of the strong-willed, defiant child.
Two boys, whom I have tagged my “two knuckleheads”, (A term of affection that I can assure you did not start out that way) that have proven to have a strength of will that can try the most stalwart of heart. Their sister, well, for example, after watching “The Sound of Music” with her mother, she was dancing in the living room doing her best imitation of Julie Andrews atop the Alps, when the “two knuckleheads” entered, engaged in fierce light-saber battle, and disrupted her idyllic “the hills are alive” moment by tumbling over the top of her and falling to the floor in a heap. She promptly retaliated by shouting at them, “Brothers, can’t you see I’m dancing here?!” and threw herself on top of the heap of “knuckleheads” putting her knuckles to their heads; in other words, she’s just a female version of her brothers.
Welcome to my world. I should have known this would happen when a man, who does not shy from stating his opinion, married a strong powerful woman, who is no wallflower. It stands to reason that three little images of us would from time to time be staring back defiantly, testing boundaries, and causing us to scramble to the phone, calling their grandparents to ask the proverbial “How did you do it?”, and desperately flipping through the pages of child rearing books.
It was in those moments that I learned something in the desperate conversations and frustrated reading of book pages from those wiser than me. Stop honoring the tantrums with your attention. Amazingly, when my wife and I started putting the children out of our presence when they were throwing the tantrums, they began to stop.
This is in no wise eliminates discipline; in fact, separating them from our presence was a source a discipline. I was guilty of allowing myself to hover over every tantrum or outburst trying to correct it. This is not a child rearing lesson for I am far from qualified in that regard, but I am drawing a parallel from knowledge gained from those who are.
With the poor behavior of the Parkland High students on full display for the nation to see, we have been guilty of the same mistake that is so easy for adults to make. In our haste to address the tantrums, either to correct and confront, or placate and pacify, we have given attention to the narcissism of a spoiled child. Children may be the greatest narcissists that have ever walked God’s green earth!
A narcissist thrives on attention, positive and negative. A child narcissist has even more power to control attention because adults feel they are required to pay attention to the outbursts. These children have been given a national spotlight by the press and a license to attack their fellow adult citizens by wealthy celebrities.
But the constant negative attention they are receiving from those us who feel compelled to combat their poor behavior simply feeds their power. So let’s stop! Stop feeding the egos of tiny little despots!
Let’s focus on the many teenagers who still have respect for the 2A rights of their fellow adult citizens. Let’s focus on getting out the votes for those candidates who truly support the 2nd Amendment. Let’s take back our power and keep it!