Bad Parenting

It was the end of the afternoon and the beginning of the evening. I didn't think I was tired but then as the words spilled out of my mouth and I couldn’t catch them I felt the exhaustion. They splashed hot onto George Wilder’s heart.

He to was definitely tired when it all began after he neglected to actually sleep during his nap; but there had to be more behind the screams directed at his sister when I opened the back door. Certainly it wasn’t just because he wanted to swing more and longer and better.

He adores her. He believes in her. She is his hero. She is his older sister; yet, his words were tearing her to pieces and she wasn’t enjoying it.

I sent George Wilder to his room. Five minutes. It felt like an eternity to him I’m sure. He probably thought I would ask him to apologize and head back out to play, but I thought I would explain that Amelia would not enjoy playing with him if he was yelling at her all the time. It made sense to me.

It all came out with as much malicious power as his words. I told him that Amelia, his best buddy, would no longer play with him if he kept acting that way. I told him he would lose his best buddy if he didn’t stop speaking so harshly. He is four. That went over like a lead balloon. He lost it. He cried and cried. I couldn’t get him to tell me why he was crying. At about that time, George walked in. I told him what I said and he looked at me with this sadness. How could I tell him that Amelia would quit playing with him?

I already knew it. As I told him, I thought about my older sister. The one that I adore. The one I believe in. The sister that is my hero. The one that I spoke to with horribly harsh words that tore her to pieces; yet, she still loved me and played with me – always. The one who is my dearest friend 30 years later.

George and I spoke briefly in the hall. I knew I was wrong. I went into George Wilder’s room and told him I should not have said that and that no matter what, Amelia will always love him and play with him and because of that, because of her unconditional love, he should try to use kind words when he speaks to her.

He understood and forgave me, but he didn’t stop crying. He said he missed me. He said he had just really wanted to twirl my hair when he crawled into our bed at 6:30 this morning, but that he couldn’t reach it. He was so tired and already sad about the hair twirling and I crushed his little spirit. Of course I stayed there with him and he twirled my hair.

I left him on his bed to rest for another minute. He came bounding back into the kitchen ten minutes later with a big smile and a hug for his sister who gladly hugged him back.


  1. Elisha,
    I enjoyed reading this post. I myself struggle with what to say to Bella (age 2) about how to treat her brother (age 1), in regards to the way she speaks to him. She is teaching him with her words and he will mimic her soon enough. I have mentioned to her that he may not want to play with her if she speaks harshly. Your post has given me pause to think of another way to get this point across.

  2. Thank you for this. Every day brings new opportunity for how to help them learn love and fun and differences. George is so very wise. He is my biggest fan and he cheers us on constantly to parent with crazy purpose.


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