My 13-year-old son Kael was babysitting my 10-year-old son Zeff last week. Upon my return from an appointment, I asked Kael how it went. “Zeff was pretty good, but he disobeyed me.”
After some questioning, I determined that the two boys had been enjoying a snack of Veggie Straws. Kael had jokingly crushed a single Veggie Straw. Zeff then enthusiastically followed suit, pulverizing the remaining 20 Veggie Straws in the Ziploc bag, creating a veggie powder. Kael then commanded him to eat the destroyed Veggie Straws. Zeff not-so-politely demurred and instead threw them away.
Each of my kids knows that when an older sibling is in charge, that sibling speaks with my authority. Disobeying the sibling in authority will have consequences with me. Of course the babysitting sibling is accountable to me for his (or her) leadership, too.
Once Zeff was out of earshot, I talked with Kael about how he handled the situation. After a couple of minutes of back and forth, I asked him what lessons he took from this episode. He said, “I should not be a hypocrite, and when someone doesn’t want to follow my command, I should ask why.”
I thought that was good advice.
It also strikes me that Zeff’s reaction to his brother’s authority looks a lot like my reaction to authority when I’m out of alignment. I can be a petulant punk, and I don’t want to face the music.
Lessons for your next (snacking) crisis:
- Lead by example.
- When you face resistance, dig deeper to understand the root issues.
- Even when we disagree, we are obligated to submit to authority, or face the consequences.
Are there any other lessons I should be taking away?