Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Shack: Limiting Yourself

Bill and I were discussing why I thought he was a good teacher in Primary.  Oh shut up, we do talk and yes, sometimes I compliment him!  It took me a while to get there, but the bottom line was that I thought of this idea from The Shack about "limiting yourself".  Here's the quote:

“Remember that choosing to stay on the ground is a choice to facilitate a relationship; to honor it.  Mackenzie, you do this yourself.  You don’t play a game or color a picture with a child to show your superiority.  Rather, you choose to limit yourself so as to facilitate and honor that relationship.  You will even lose a competition to accomplish love.  It is not about winning and losing, but about love and respect.”  (pg 106)
Bill is really good about talking to the kids at their level.  Not eye level, or "on the ground", but at the level of their understanding.  We talked about how sometimes Kyra and I will push that to the next level and how that is good, but we have to be careful not to do that too much with Tasha. 

Last week, the girls had a fight because Tasha tends to "forget the rules" of a game when she loses too many times.  I understand how frustrated she could get, and at the same time I could see where her sister doesn't just want to let her win every time, she wants to challenge herself.  With this quote in mind, the argument seems pretty lame.  That's because I want them to have a relationship based on respect, but I'm not them and they are still young.

I think to "limit yourself" is to stop thinking/looking/feeling things from your perspective, and to start doing it from another's.  Some might call it empathy, but it doesn't even really have to go that far.  Say that you don't want to give a homeless person $5 outside of a fast food restaurant because you know the money would go further and be spent better at a grocery store.  But that's your broad perspective of what a person with a home, fridge, shelf, car, etc. has to work with and plan for.  What if you limit yourself and think that you really don't have any idea where you will be headed after your next meal, when you might eat next, who will be with you, if you have a place to sleep, etc.?  You're hungry and this is where you are.  You want to fulfill a need, one that maybe you haven't fulfilled in a long time. And maybe you stopped thinking long term or next day when you lost hope in that idea for whatever reason.  With that $5, you can spend a while indoors with air conditioning as a paying customer, get a meal and an ice cold drink that you can refill an take with you.

I'm having a hard time limiting myself as to where to stop the flow of ideas on this subject.  I think the main idea I want to come away with, especially when it comes to helping and serving others, is this:  the solution to their problem lies within themselves and how they are capable of handling it.  It doesn't matter what I would do because I'm not them.  It's my choice to help or not to help, serve or not to serve. 


tempe turley said...

Loved these thoughts. I haven't seen Bill in action as a primary teacher, but I can imagine what you say is true. And he seems to truly love working in the primary, so I have no doubts he is an amazing teacher.

What's funny, though, was that I have almost exactly opposite thoughts in the way I personally interact with kids (especially my own kids). I tend to try to interact with my kids, not at my level exactly, but as close to my level as I can get away with. This is not necessarily intentional, it's just who I am.

I do think there's some benefit in my approach, but I have to explain myself by changing the topic slightly. I've struggled a lot in my career and still do with the idea that when you talk with people in the computer industry, it's almost like talking in another language. Someone who has absorbed a pretty complex topic will talk in a meeting with the assumption that everyone in the meeting is at least close to their same level of competency. For good reason, it would be tiresome to have to explain every last concept like every one in the room is a beginner.

But the field is so vast, and some people (me) in the room will be a beginner in some topic. And when I scan the room and everyone has this appearance of perfect understand (sometimes its true), I think oh no, I'm incompetent and I may be found out. It's an exhausting experience. But if I persist, research the topic, immerse myself in this "more advance language", ask questions without fear, I get to competency - at least enough so that I can have the conversation.

So, I guess, my thought with my kids is to immerse them with language and ideas and concepts, and over time they get there more quickly. I'd like to think my kids have done well in reading and language because of this - but maybe I'm biased :-).

Again, I'm not intentionally doing this, this is just a natural reaction for me, it's really just who I am. And likely, its not always appropriate. Which is why I think team teaching seems like such a good idea. You can get someone like Bill and someone like me to balance each other out.

It's also why team parenting is so powerful, a husband and a wife, so my kids get my wife who is better at engaging their level than I am and me.

Anyway, nice post!

H said...

Thank for the comments, Scott. Your approach definitely has its place in many situations. In fact, many kids totally respect and appreciate that attitude because they don't feel they are being talked down to.

The interesting thing is that I don't even know where the content of this post came from (my head must have been off kilter somewhere). The original idea from the book on limiting yourself was more about experiences. Mack was telling Papa about something that he had been through when he realized that he would already know. Papa explained that he limited his knowledge so he could hear the experience as Mack did. This is something I need to try to do more for my kids, Tasha expecially. I tend to cut them off because I know what happened and don't want to listen to it (mostly while reenacting a fight). The thing is, if I listen to what they say, I generally figure out where the problem was. It's just exhausting!

H said...

Oh, and I totally agree with your team teaching and team parenting! It's always nice to have another personality teaching our kids. In fact, Tasha's 2nd grade teacher was the one that found the "discipline" technique that we duplicated at home to bring some peace.