When you are young, you spend a lot of your days learning how to handle big situations that don’t always make sense. Sometimes it as a small as learning to stay still when they want nothing more to fidget. However, there are also really heavy things kids have to see happen. They can see the death of a loved one or have to figure out why a family member is different than they used to be. In the last few years we have lost loved ones to addiction, suicide, and so much more. I have had to work on a big life skill with them. I have had to teach them to walk away.
Teach Them to Walk Away
I want to be clear about one thing. I completely understand that this will not be the right fit for every family. If you have a different view point on this issue, please parent the way you choose. Instead, I am simply trying to share what has worked for my parenting journey and what has helped my children process big truths and huge experiences.
Our society is obsessed with what it believes to be right. Everyone seems to fight over every single thing. Honest discourse has been replaced with offense and triggers. While some things can really be difficult to handle, many of these issues lead to fights. It is so important to teach kids to walk away from a fight.
There is a huge difference between an educated debate and a mindless fight without any give on either side. I have been working to show the kids that some fights will never be won. Some people will stick to the fact that they are right even if it is obvious they are wrong. Teach your kids it is ok to walk away and that it won’t make them weaker.
It is important to illustrate the difference between a healthy discussion where two sides disagree and a fight where neither side is considerate of the other. As a nation, we desperately need to raise children who walk away from fights and engage in educated discussion about their disagreements.
Removing Someone from their Life
So often people speak of grace. There is a season for that. There is a season for forgiveness. However, there comes a time when a relationship is toxic. I have removed the children’s grandmother from their life. She is toxic and caused them more pain than is healthy for any person to endure. Many people told me that I needed to keep her in their life. They told me to forgive and move on because “Kids need a (Insert family member title here).”
Let me be clear. Kids and adults don’t “need” someone because they share blood if they are toxic.
Don’t keep someone toxic around because they share your blood. The only thing you teach a child is that disrespect is ok if it comes from family. I watched my kids cry themselves to sleep because a family member chose her addictions and her stubborn need to be right over them. I watched my sweet kids switch from compassion to anger as they received calls from a family member obviously under the influence.
We tried grace. We tried to keep the relationship intact. Guess what. It didn’t fix anything and hurt my kids. I knew I had to draw a hard line in the sand. I had to teach my kids this was NOT ok or healthy for them. In the words of a dear friend, “Were this an abusive boyfriend, people would beg me to get him away from my kids. Because this person is family the same things are not said.”
I will always teach my kids it is ok to walk away from a toxic person and I won’t apologize for it.
From Past Mistakes
It can be so easy to dwell on mistakes you made in the past. It can be easy to live in yesterday’s mistakes and never move forward. I have been working hard to work on leaving behind past hurts. More than that, I have worked hard to teach my kids that sometimes we have to leave yesterday’s mistakes with yesterday. If you have made every attempt to make it right, and have sincerely apologized, you can’t live in yesterday’s mistakes.
We talk a lot about the fact that the consequences don’t go away but the guilt and self-doubt can. This life is way too long to spend all your days guilty and exhausted from yesterday’s choices. Please take the time to teach your kids how to own their choices and then walk away from past mistakes.
Physical touch they don’t want
With a multitude of conversations about physical touch, as of late and how some abuse it, it is also important to teach them to walk away from physical touch they don’t want. Children are not required to hug, cuddle, or give physical affection to anyone they don’t want to. Start young and teach your children it is completely ok to walk away.
Some will tell your child a hug is expected because “it’s grandma” or “aunty wants a hug.” I spent years face to face with the man who molested me because I was forced to hug someone who was a “family friend” and would “do me no harm.” Every day he was allowed around me and though I protested his touch, I was pushed to engage with him.
Give your children an out when it comes to physical touch.
There are times to pray, stand, fight, wait, persevere, and push thru a situation. However, it is completely ok to teach them to walk away from those things that would tear them apart. Don’t be afraid to teach your children to set clear boundaries. They will thank you for it.