Spray Paint

This picture is from PostSecret.com, where people, you know, post secrets.

As a parent myself, I wondered how I would have initially responded to seeing this on my garage floor.

Would I praise and celebrate?

Probably not.

Would I scold and yell?

Yep, more likely!

This picture, however, makes me stop and think about what we as parents get mad and frustrated at, instead of looking beyond “the messes” and into the creativity of our children. I know it is much easier for me to “get on” to my daughters when they spill water on the floor while attempting to fill their water cup at the dispenser on the refrigerator… instead of praising their independence and ability to try and fail, try and succeed at performing basic human tasks, like getting water for oneself.

Maybe it’s perspective. One way parents look at these situations is that they are inconvenient, messy, and a teachable moment of what not to do. We get mad, scold, and tell them not to do that again.

Another way to look at these situations are training for life. What if our children are not learning to not spill water, but rather “when I mess up, it is normal to get yelled at”? Don’t we want our children to learn that it is okay to mess up? And isn’t it our job as parents to help our children learn life’s basic (and later, complicated) tasks in an environment that is okay with them making mistakes to learn these things?

Thinking about these things helps me to parent with much more grace. It also reminds me of my ultimate job as a parent:

To train these “little, dependent people” to be “big, independent people” someday.

A further side benefit? As a parent, I’m not as stressed then about some water on the floor (or spray paint on the garage floor).