Intent, Words, & Action – What It All Means

Actions speak louder than words. Liam the other day was in full out tantrum.  In the midst of it he told me to go away and that he didn’t want me.  He then further went on to shout that he wished daddy was there (And to be honest so did I).  I left him alone and a little while later he crawled into my lap unprovoked and hugged me.  His words said one thing but his actions said something totally different.  In the end he explained to me why he was upset and we worked through it. Even though Liam said that he wanted me to go away and he didn’t want me, at the end he was in my lap cuddling me. It was his actions that spoke louder and had a more lasting affect on me than his words, and this goes the same for adults.

On the contrary Ava this morning threw her water cup on the kitchen floor.    I made her pick it up and told her if she did it again, she would have to sit in timeout.  She then walked off into the living room.  I heard a thud and when I walked into the room there was the cup lying on the floor with her standing next to it smiling.  Her intent and action were very clear to me.  She was testing me.  She served her timeout, picked up her cup, and we ended it with a hug.

“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” – Pablo Picasso   Nowadays whenever someone gets into trouble their first response is, “I never intended to be offensive”, “I never intended to hurt you”, “I never intended to cheat on you.” These simple statements are suppose to wash away the wrongdoing of the action and in doing so never taking responsibility for what the wrongdoer did.  Intention is not an apology.  Just because you did not intend to hurt someone doesn’t mean that you didn’t.  Apologize.

This whole ideology infuriates me and it happens all the time.  From celebrities to sports figures to people we know, it’s the get out of jail for free statement.  “I did not intend to hurt you.” There are two parts of this statement the really irks me.  One being that by saying that, the person is never truly taking responsibility for what they have done and the impact of their actions and/or words.  Two it comes across at times, as the hurt person is overreacting to what the wrongdoer has done and in a way diminishes their feelings.

We want our children to take responsibility, own their mistakes, and apologize when they are wrong, whether it was by accident or not.  But why should they when the people that they look up to are not?  When was it that the adults stop living up to the standards that they want their children to be at? We are always modeling to our children good and bad behavior. If we want our children to become responsible, apologetic, and forgiving adults we need to show them how to do so.

Actions speak louder than words and intention as well.   In the end we can give a lot of lip service on trying to explain why we do things, but it is our actions that have the lasting affect. No one is perfect (I have said this many times) but if you want to move on from whatever event that took place we need to face our problems and wrongdoings head on. If we can take responsibility for our actions and become apologetic for them, our children will be more apt to do the same as well.

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

A couple of days ago while waiting for Will to get home from work Liam said, “When daddy gets home I am going to do yard work with him.” When Will arrived home he mowed the lawn and Liam was right next to him pushing his plastic Fisher Price mower. It was so precious to watch. After Will was done he went into the garage to put the chain back on his chainsaw. Liam went inside to get his toolbox and alongside Will “helped” him fixed it. It was so heartwarming and touching to watch.

Ava just recently got a new doll in which I noticed at various times during the day she had the doll sitting right next to her, wrapped up in blanket for a nap, and sitting with her during breakfast to eat. It is so cute and funny how quick kids begin imitation play. This kind of reenactment is important for children’s development as this is a part of the learning process of how things work and how things are done.

This all brings me to yesterday in which I read an article about two children suspended for the rest of the school year (3 days) because they turned rulers into play guns. On one hand I can understand the school’s thinking on this. Considering since the Sandy Hook shooting there have been 74 more school shootings, the zero tolerance method needs to be put in place. As I mentioned above children learn things through imitation and it is not just from parents but from their peers and television. I am sure these young children were just playing and had no intention of ill will towards anyone, however I also doubt these children truly grasped the idea what pointing those rulers and yelling bang bang at each other meant (the kids were in first grade). I am not pinning all school shootings on children pretending to play with guns because I believe there is much bigger problem at hand (mental illness, etc) however there needs to be some responsibility on our part. Sadly kids do not realize the true impact of their actions or how grave the consequences can be.

On the other hand I don’t believe “giving detention to the whole class when only a few kids were misbehaving,” is an ok approach either. “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” I remember vividly when I was in fourth grade I was suppose to go on a class trip the circus. Two days before the class trip we had a substitute and several kids misbehaved. When the teacher came back the day before the class trip she canceled our trip as punishment for the bad behavior. More recently at work our HR department has come up with a lot of stringent rules regarding our dress code, cell phone usage, Internet usage, how long are breaks can be, because some people have a hard time deciphering what is appropriate and not appropriate. I’m so tired of being lumped in with all the bad kids.

The key is responsibility. If parents are responsible and behave properly they will teach children the correct way of behaving. The kids will automatically imitate the responsible and good behavior. I grew up in a household that had guns and to this day I would not know how to gain access to it. My father was extremely responsible and respectful in knowing the gravity of what the power guns can possess. I used firearms as an example for this post however; my intention was more to use it as an illustration and less of political statement. Just recently I noticed Liam shaking his finger at me when he got really upset and I realize he got that from me. I love watching Liam and Ava as they get older and learn new things. But it’s also fun to see how they try to be like my husband and I. I know we are not perfect by any means. I’m sure they will pick up some bad habits along the way. But if we can at least instill some sense of responsibility in them that is one thing I will be very comfortable with then imitating.