Ever known someone who insisted on doing the very thing that irritates you the most? Maybe he called you by a nickname you hated or she always teased you about the way you pronounced a certain word. You may love the person, but whenever you were around them you kept waiting for them to push your buttons in some way to get a reaction from you. Even now, thinking about it makes you cringe just a little.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents become experts at pushing their child’s buttons. I’m not talking about verbal abuse (which goes way beyond button pushing), but rather doing something on purpose, even though you know it will irritate your child. I know most of you immediately thought about the ever popular singing and dancing ban placed on all parents. If it were up to most children, parents would be banned from all singing and dancing after giving birth. Sometimes though, a mom has just got to sing, and that’s okay.
What I want parents to reconsider is the button pushing that isn’t necessary for your child or you. For example, bringing up topics in front of your child’s friends which he would prefer to discuss privately. Or loudly reminding him to wear his gloves in front of his football teammates. Or revealing information to your child’s friends she would rather they didn’t know. Or pointing out to every friend and relative he’s started shaving or she’s gotten her first period.
Yes, you are the parent and technically I guess you could argue you have a right to do all of those things should you wish. However, I believe those seemingly silly decisions to push your child’s buttons can also begin pushing your child away from you. Every time you push an unnecessary button, you are in a sense pointing out the feelings of your child are of little consequence to you. You are saying with your actions your amusement is more important than her embarrassment. You are showing a lack of respect for your child’s life and wishes. Your child may even begin avoiding you in hopes of escaping yet another chance for you to upset her.
Although you don’t want to raise coddled children with no sense of humor about themselves, even “jokes” become hurtful after numerous requests to stop teasing about a topic. Respecting your child’s wishes about the particular buttons you may push is teaching your child to consider the feelings of others before speaking. Part of the unconditional love God expects Christians to show to others is a basic respect for them. What better way to teach your children how to respect others than to model it in the way you treat them?
There will be plenty of time for teaching your child the importance of allowing people to be themselves – aka allowing Mom to sing if she would like. There are plenty of ways to discipline your children or encourage them to take better care of their health which don’t involve pushing their buttons. If your child has too many buttons, you may have to work specifically on helping him reduce the number of things he allows to irritate him in life.
For most kids though, respecting their particular buttons and avoiding pushing them will let them know you not only love them, you respect them as well. Understanding that can strengthen your parent child relationship in so many ways. Then when you have something vitally important to communicate, your child will be much more open to what you have to say to him. It’s worth the extra effort.