Lately my new part-time job has me pondering my parenting style and life in general. I sell high-end fashion to women of all ages and, like the trusty “potty training” and “chore charts” often used to train toddlers and youngsters to do the right things consistently, my new employer recognizes achievement in denim sales on a weekly chart that I see every time I go into the break room for more lipstick or a sip of Diet Coke!
As you can tell, my sales are D-O-W-N!!! I haven’t mastered the art of romancing a customer from the front of the store to the dressing room filled with clothes I have personally selected for her body type. It remains to be seen whether I ever will.
But this much I do know: I make every single person I interact with feel good and want to come back!!!
How does this translate to my parenting style?
I guess it goes back to the old “punishment-reward” theory that caused me so much consternation as a parent of lively toddlers. I never could manage to completely punish bad behavior but rather relished in the opportunity to praise and reward good behavior. Many other parents along the way criticized my form of “discipline.” (I don’t even like that word!). However, I could not help noticing that the children my children played with who were consistently punished for the same erroneous behavior never seemed to be motivated to change through punishment alone. Hence, my Cosmically Cool invention of the “REDEMPTION SLUSHIE” behavioral modification system.
One very long, hot, windy summer on the Kansas Plains I endeavored to enforce a daily routine upon my children – both to punctuate the endlessly long days and also to provide a sense of “accomplishing” something during the summer as so many of their peers seemed to be able to do. It never went very well. My kids know me inside and out. By the end of the summer, the only routine I had managed to successfully imprint into their bright minds was the afternoon slushie break – many times, an offering of forgiveness for previously bad behavior and a covenant for better behavior in the future.
At the end of the day, I decided I did not care whether the children were “getting” a larger lesson in discipline. What mattered to me was that they understood they could be forgiven – and that they had the power to forgive others and establish new terms for playing together more harmoniously in the future.
Thus, the “Redemption Slushie” both metaphorically and in actuality has become a mantra to me in my attempt to help form my children’s character as well as my own professional performance. What it feels like in practice is something like this: “I promise to push you as far as I can push you in pursuit of living a life of kindness and purpose – and when we falter, as surely we will – we shall re-negotiate the meaning of what is good and share Redemption Slushies.”
It is my parenting version of breaking bread together. The relationship model I want with my children fits in a circle of love and trust – not on a hierarchical chart with ugly black dots. Ultimately, this is what I strive for in all my relationships, so if I ever invite you to share a slush with me know that this request comes from my Source of love – not just my appetite!
Happy New Year and I raise my Slushie to You!!!