- Published on Monday, 10 September 2012 03:11
A while back, my husband and I wrote down ten things we admire in one another. We did the same thing for my 13 year old and he reciprocated. We carried the idea on with our five and three year olds, in a simplified manner.
First, we wrote down what we love about the other person and then we read each list out loud. With the younger kids, they verbally shared while I recorded their statements on paper. We all enjoyed hearing what we admire about one another and I saved each piece of paper for the kid's memory boxes.
It was fun to hear what the younger kids came up with:
"I love that you hug me when I cry. You get me ice when I fall and band aids when I have a cut."
"I love that you make sure we always have food and snacks to eat."
"I love that you kiss me every day."
These simple things make the younger children feel happy and cared for.
What made me most happy, though, was the responses that came from our older son. While raising our kids, we often assume that our lessons are going in one ear and out the other. "Don't they ever HEAR me?!"
The list items that my eldest son came up with brought me to tears. He watches us, hears us, listens to us and then pretends to ignore us. When he wrote his list, however, he pointed out things I never knew he noticed. It did my heart good to know that he sees us that closely.When I feel frustrated with him, I sometimes open the list as a little reminder:
From day one, our kids are looking, watching, listening and contemplating what their parents do. What their parents say. What their parents live by. Who their parents help. How their parents react or respond to the tough situations that life tosses in their path. We matter to them and although they might not always verbalize it, their powers of observation are deep and intense. Knowing this has helped to eliminate a lot of my frustration as a parent. I'm not, in fact, being ignored.
I'm being watched. I'm being analyzed. And now that I know this - I'm being more deliberate about the lessons I teach and the way in which I deliver my messages to my kids.
- Gentle communication
- Head nodding
- Seeing the forest through the trees
So often, I've expected my kids to know the lessons we've taught - right here and now. NOW! That isn't happening. It's a slow process of day by day, moment by moment, puzzle piece by puzzle piece. Then one day we hear them talking about us, through the bedroom door, bragging to their friends about something they admire in us.
And we cry.
And we're happy.
We didn't know they felt that way.
When the yelling, assuming, judging, impatience, anger and demands get replaced with the gentle communication, listening, acceptance, patience, breathing, smiling, head nodding, empathizing and seeing the forest through the trees ...
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Kids Perks, Early Childhood News and Resources, Personal Child Stories and all additional sites under the Pine Media umbrella. She has four children (2 boys, 2 girls) and has a background in small business ownership, freelance, marketing, nanny work, early childhood, education, special needs and charity service. Shara serves as the secretary of her town charity group and the treasurer of the local library Board. She's been known to drink too much coffee and snort while laughing.