Parenting a Velociraptor

October 5, 2015 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Parenting is hard.  If you are a parent, you already know that.  If you are not a parent, but you pay attention, you know that.  Parenting is relentless and exhausting.  How much so?  So much, that one of my best metaphors is that it is like raising a velociraptor from Jurassic Park.

velociraptor(Side note: I have blogged about this before.  You can read that here.  I hesitated to do it again, except that if Hollywood can keep making sequels, I can too.)

So how are kids like velociraptors? Will they calm down if Chris Pratt clicks at them? Probably but that’s not what I mean. Will they obey you unless they meet a bigger dinosaur, but in the end their loyalty is with you?  Umm, rarely, but again that’s not what I mean. (Velociraptor parenting updated for the new movie!!!)

How kids are like velociraptors comes from the original movie from 1993.  In the beginning of the movie we are introduced to raptors.  Dr. Grant describes them as dangerous hunters.  Then later when he visits Jurassic Park he is horrified that they would breed raptors.  Then in what is one of my favorite scenes, Muldoon, the Crocodile Dundee-ish (Boom! Even more dated reference than the original Jurassic Park movie!), game warden describes to the scientists his encounters with the raptors.

The raptors are systematically going around the electric fence and charging it.  When asked why, Muldoon says that they are testing the fence for weaknesses.  They were relentlessly slamming up against an electric fence looking for weaknesses.  They did not care that they were getting electrocuted, they were testing the fence and looking to get out.

(In the 4 years since I first wrote about this, someone finally put the scene on YouTube.)

If you do not see the parallels to parenting, then you haven’t been parenting very long or you haven’t been paying very close attention.  Kids are relentless like raptors.  You put up a fence (a rule or boundary) and they spend their entire day/week/month/year/life testing that boundary for weaknesses.  You say to your toddler to not touch the stove/TV/fireplace.  They walk over to it slowly, right to the object (metaphorical electric fence) and reach their little hand out.  Why? To see if you mean it.  To test the fence for weaknesses.

Don’t say that word! (Rams the fence)

Don’t go in there! (Rams the fence)

Go to bed! (Rams the fence)

Eat your food! (Rams the fence)

Over and over and over again.  They are constantly ramming the fence.  Some seasons are worse than others.  We call these stages Velociraptor Mode.  They just are relentlessly testing everything that you say, every rule, boundary, everything.  All The Time!

You are tempted in these moments to give up.  Maybe you start to doubt yourself as a parent.  Maybe you begin to tell yourself that you are just too strict.  Maybe it would just be easier if you relented and got rid of the fence.  I know that it might seem that way but it is very important that you understand this.  There is a key difference between your kid and a velociraptor.  Your kid, deep down, needs and wants the fence to hold.  They need security and consistency.  They need to know that you are in charge and you have things under control.

Even though everything about the way that they are acting says the opposite, know that they do not want to be in control.  They do want the security that you provide for them.  I know this to be true, because the most stressed out kids I know are the ones who don’t know where the fence is.  It’s not that they have no boundaries (although those kids are pretty stressed out as well), it’s that they don’t know where the fence is or it is constantly moving.

Your little raptors need that fence.  They need to know that they are safe.  This goes for kids in their terrible twos to kids in their sassy seventeens.  Do not let the exhaustion of the constant testing and charging discourage you from being a great parent.  I understand that this is relentless, often thankless job.  But if we don’t lose heart, and let the fence hold, you will discover over time that you have a great kid who respects authority and is growing into an awesome young man or woman.

Again, I know that it’s a thankless job, so allow me to say “Thank you! Thank you for doing the most important job that God has given any of us–to love, disciple and raise the precious little ones that God has given us.”

In the mean time, where can we all get some of these?

raptor cage


One Response to “Parenting a Velociraptor”
  1. Carolyn Loften says:

    Pastor, as one of our testers, we say you turned out very well.

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