So, I instructed, cajoled, encouraged, (or in their words, criticized and nagged) with words like, “You aren’t going to wear that are you?” “Get your elbows off the table” “Be nice”, “Sit up straight” etc., etc. And when my children would ask, “Why are you always telling me what I am doing wrong? “ My ready reply was, “Because I am your mother and it’s my job.”
Then one day my daughter, Kristen, told me something that changed my life—and hers. She said she felt like all I did was tell her what was wrong with her. She told me she already had plenty of people in her life to identify her faults. There were teachers, leaders, bosses, and friends, and she was very hard on herself. What she needed from me was acceptance. She needed to know when she came home from the demands of school/work, that she was entering a safe place where she was loved and accepted for just who and how she was.
That completely shocked me and I determined I would change my parenting. I will admit it didn’t happen over night and I still have room for improvement. I am naturally just a bit of a control freak, so giving up that “control” was a bit difficult.
I do not mean to say we should never teach or give advice, we do need to do that as parents, but I have learned a valuable lesson: LISTEN more, (they usually already know what they are doing wrong) TALK less, (they also usually know how to fix it) HUG a lot and ENCOURAGE with positive words.
So I felt pretty good a few months ago when I told a daughter how great she was and she and her sister rolled their eyes and said, “That is such a ‘Mom’ comment!” I am so glad my “mom comments” are now positive words instead of critical ones. And I am so very grateful for a daughter who was open and honest with me, because my relationship with my children is so very dear to my heart, and brings such great . . . joy to my journey.