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200147004-001“You sly dog! You caught me monologuing!” ~Syndrome, The Incredibles

Parenting has quite a few deja vu moments. You get the distinct feeling you’ve seen, done, or felt a particular something before.

Then it hits you.

The lecture, the kid with eyes glazed over, the adult droning on and on in an attempt to impale her listeners with life lessons. You have lived this scene. Only this time you’re the droner.

It happens to the best of us. A conversation about baking turns into an analogy for marriage. (Actually that was one of my finer moments. Performing a psalm on impulse that lasted forty verses and didn’t rhyme? My kids went to bed afraid we belonged to a cult.)

Children learn more from our actions than our words. We know this. It’s been proven. Still, we succumb to the urge to give doctoral dissertations worthy of official titles:

The Fundamentals of Sharing
Why Childhood Chores Ensure a Successful Adulthood
Choose Life: An Experiential Case Study Against Drug Use

We can’t help it. Our impassioned words warm their faces until their ears shrivel up and fold over on themselves. And though we walk away realizing we should’ve dropped the mic before the crowd turned restless, we also know we’ll probably do it again.

Because we love them.

That love sifts through events and conversations searching for teachable moments. Then off we go, portable stage erected, podium approached, throat cleared.

But not all hope is lost.

Because those young people we occasionally hold hostage via verbosity, they love us too.

And if we live what we say, and listen when they talk, and dwell with them–dig in and spend the time it takes to show them they’re where we want to be–they’re actually listening.

There’s more to parenting than five-point speeches. That doesn’t mean we should never speak. Our words have meaning. And with experience, we learn to use less of them.

The clever among us even switch it up a bit, making room on the box for a few corny jokes.

Your turn: How do you compensate for your parenting faux pas?