I really need to approach this with great care. The concepts I want to share are important, but if I don’t craft this correctly, I’ll alienate and offend and that is the last thing I want to do. Robert Fulghum wrote a thought provoking book entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. Sometimes I think in the midst of adulthood, it would serve us well to periodically review what we learned as children. I fear that in the midst of adulthood, we knowingly or unknowingly create scenarios that don’t serve us well when we forget some of the basic tenets we learned.
One of the normal developmental phases that children go through is known as the “terrible twos”. It is the one developmental stage in life where it is anticipated and age appropriate for kids to alternately cling to parents or run from parents. The thing that seems primary on their wish list is a no holds barred approach to life. If it factors out differently, you can expect frustrations, misbehavior and tantrums.
Frankly, I’d probably smile if I saw a two-year-old on the floor of a toy store throwing a fit in front of his parents because they refused to get him a toy. Temper tantrums are age appropriate for two-year-olds. It is a phase that kids go through as they mature, develop and learn more appropriate responses to not being the ruler of their universe.
But if by the age of three or thirty, those same behaviors still exist, the dynamic changes radically and it is cause for concern. If I’m not mistaken, ours is a culture in which it is not that difficult to find developmentally delayed individuals (adults) who mistakenly think temper tantrums are an appropriate forum for problem solving and conflict resolution.
Whether in the midst of family relationships, workplace connections, political processes, or God forbid – even church, temper tantrums and bullying behavior is never appropriate. Never ever is there a scenario where we effectively orchestrate a favorable outcome by forfeiting civility and respect. Yet, it is as commonplace as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
Isn’t domestic violence an oxymoron? The most dangerous place to be in our country is often in one’s home. That is particularly true for children who come from hard places. There are no socio-economic boundaries or educational parameters that define a hard place home environment.
Out of curiosity, I did a Google search related to domestic violence and saw the headlines associated to the funeral service for a well respected, pediatrician in Scarsdale, New York, earlier this year. Circumstances surrounding her death were disturbing:
“Dr. Robin Goldman was a woman so accomplished and vivacious that her friends compared her to the Energizer bunny and her children called her Supermom. Her devotion to her family was matched only by her love of her religion and her dedication to her profession — the three pillars that anchored her life, her daughter Jenna said Thursday in a eulogy at Young Israel of Scarsdale, the congregation the family has long called home. In accordance with Jewish tradition, the 58-year-old pediatrician was buried soon — the day after she was found stabbed to death in her Scarsdale home. No mention was made of her husband, Julius “Jules” Reich, 61, who was charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death…”
Developmental delay, the epitome of evil, selfishness and control or any number of other things… Can they lead to murder? You tell me. I can’t believe that on a routine basis people knowingly wake up with the thought: “I’m going to kill someone today and in the process I will ruin my life.” All behavior is an attempt to get a need met. That even includes murder, but look at the variables that get overlooked. Seldom ever does the perpetrator walk away unscathed. It is self-destructive.
What about name calling, intimidation, ridicule, bullying behavior and a flagrant disregard for civility and respect? Does good come from venues in which those things are present? If our approach at problem solving includes the need to denigrate or demean others to win the conflict, we need a wake up call. We’ve forgotten what we learned in kindergarten. Life doesn’t have to be “I win/You lose.” That scenario simply sets in motion the next race, the next fight, the next debate… The list goes on and on.
For example, the first seven life lessons on Fulghum’s list could radically alter our effectiveness in problem solving and conflict resolution regardless of the venue in which we find ourselves:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
Fulghum expresses it well: “Without realizing it, we fill important places in each other’s lives. It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, coworkers. Good people who are always ‘there,’ who can be relied upon in small, important ways. People who teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the dailiness of life. We never tell them. I don’t know why, but we don’t.
“And, of course, we fill that role ourselves. There are those who depend in us, watch us, learn from us, take from us. And we never know.
You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think. There are always those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who.”
All My Best!