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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teachable Moments: Adrienne Patterson

I am going to get really transparent here.  (Some of you may be scared hearing that since I have already shared some not so pretty moments and been more transparent than you would like!)  A little background on a project I have been doing this summer. I started a group called Mommy & Me Missions that allows moms and kids to volunteer and serve together. My goal in starting this group was two fold. One I wanted to get more involved in local charity work and two it is extremely important for me to teach my girls how to give back.  The older they get and the more the see in the world around them I am acutely aware that we as parents have to work very diligently at teaching our kids how to think of others.  It is not natural to put others first or do for others, our natural inclination is to be selfish and my goal was to combat that natural instinct as best I could. 

So, we are halfway through summer and we have about 7 mission projects under our belt and I am feeling pretty good about what I am instilling in my girls and then it happened.  After an evening with friends our girls come downstairs with several American Girl catalogues full of magic marker circles around the dolls they plan to purchase.  Despite me telling my girls that it will take some time to save $100 for a doll with a $5/week allowance they are not deterred. They talk incessantly about the dolls, the outfits, the strollers…on and on and on!  (Side note: I think these dolls are ridiculously overpriced and for that much money why to they give them little buck teeth? Surely for that price they could have perfect little doll veneers!)  The following day the mom of the little friend they were playing with calls to tell me that her daughter shared more of the discussion b/w the girls and it turns out my precious Molly Scott came up with a “fabulous” plan to afford the beloved doll.  The plan?  Write letters to people asking for money for the poor then use that money to buy the doll!!!!!!  OMGosh, seriously?!? My child? The child of the missions focused mom?  I totally freaked out, this was exactly the selfishness I was trying to avoid and now not only is she selfish but a liar and a thief as well.  Total "I am a failure as a mother" moment.

Now before you start accusing my child of being seriously disturbed and heading for a future in prison for embezzlment, money laundering or blackmail let me tell you a few things.  My Molly Scott cares very deeply for people and this is not typical for her.  Just a week prior after visiting the Boys and Girls Club she was determined to go and raise money for those children and to buy them a “nice new building with games and candy.” She often shares her thoughts of wanting to give to others and praying for those in need so I did have reason not to completely go off the deep end over this comment. 

During school we have a portion of our day that we pray together and read the bible and just discuss things.  So during that time I asked her about her plan to get the money for her doll and she admitted she did say it.  Instead of getting angry at her God’s grace allowed it to become a wonderful teaching moment about honesty and how we have to fight our natural urges to be greedy and the dangers of how that greed can cause us to lose sight of what is right all in the name of simply getting what we want.  She listened and apologized and the next day was back on track for ways to earn money for those in need.  I know her heart is good and I know that she didn’t even totally understand what that plan of hers really meant…she just wanted the doll! (The stupid, buck tooth over priced doll…I knew she was nothing but trouble!)

As a parent not only are we constantly teaching but we ourselves are always learning.  We can try our best to teach them the basic skills of life…clean up after yourself, chew with your mouth closed, don’t hit, say please and thank you.  But the truth is, some of the biggest lessons come from how we teach them from their mistakes.  (I don’t think I would have thought to include in our daily school lesson “don’t write letters asking for money from the poor then use the money to buy toys for yourself.”)  We try as moms to ensure that they do everything right b/c it’s embarrassing when your kids does something really bad or wrong even if they are kids.  (Even writing this I wonder if people are thinking that if my kid is saying such things I am not the one to be heading up a Christian missions project!!).  But the bottom line is we don’t teach them to be bad or make poor choices, our job is to teach them to the best of our ability how to make the right choices.  If we can get past our shock and horror at some of their schemes and naughtiness we will find enormous teaching moments that might not have otherwise presented themselves.  I am pretty confident she learned a lot from this situation…if not then please do not send any money to her even if she says it’s for the poor!!

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