So, the other question Gary had for me was, basically, how do we, as parents, respond differently to our children than our parents did to us?
Here’s my answer to that:
I look at all the amazing gifts my parents gave me, conciously and unconciously. For example, a very basic gift they gave me is the confidence to draw a straight line. I don’t even think about it, and I hardly ever use a ruler.
I saw them do it so many times, it became an integral part of me. This seems simple, but that courage, that sureness, leads into other areas of my life, so when someone says, “Can you do this?” my first response is, generally, “Oh, no problem,” even if I’ve never done it before. So, for my children, I carry that gift over into their lives. I have actually listed all the wondrous, unique qualities in my journal that my parents have bestowed upon me, and I have taken the time over the years to share that list with them.
I look at the reactions my parents had to different scenarios, and the ones that hurt or upset me, I try to not extend towards my children. It is easy to say, “I will NEVER do that!” until you, too, are in a similar place with children of your own. Then, it is amazing what dragons surface, and the decisions we must make—immediately—with what the dragons will be allowed to do. If the dragon feels bigger than me—like, I’m tired and mad and feeling frustrated, which is the biggest dragon of all—then I excuse myself. I get AWAY from my kids. I say, “I have to go outside for a second because I’m feeling upset.”
I try try try try try to do my best to never put it on them because of how I, myself, am feeling. Those are my feelings, not theirs. Why should they be responsible for my dragon? They shouldn’t. And be teaching them I must be responsible with MY behaviour…bingo! They are learning to be responsible with theirs.
We say “Try this” instead of “No” ( or “I’m no willing”)…we save “no” for the big moments. “No” is a stopper…”Yes” is a celebration.
We let them draw on a large wall that was painted with chalkboard paint.
We have art supplies in ready demand, at their level, near their art table.
We do NOT have DVD players in the car. Yuck! I’ll go on further at another time…infuriating, those things.
We have family game night.
We sit on the floor and put blocks together with our kids.
We read to them EVERY NIGHT.
We are with them as often as possible. It is not drudgery. It is a beautiful experience to spend time with two people who were not here not so very long ago. It is not “babysitting” when we are with them. It is love.