Thursday, June 6, 2013
I kind of suck at affirming others.
As you can see on my kitchen chalk board, up at the top, there are two acronyms. One is for my husband whose love language is Words of Affirmation. (Mine is Acts of Service). I've heard/read that the mistake many people make is trying to give their love language to others instead of giving the person what their love language actually is.
Not a bad thing---but my siblings and I were raised to have high self-esteem. So this has carried into my adult years, and I often forget that everyone else doesn't feel so good about themselves.
I'm not saying I'm "all that and a bag of chips," because I have have struggles, doubts, and insecurities just like every other person, but I tend to not dwell upon them.
I was recently reading in a parenting book how it's so important to not let negative attitudes, moods, or seasons affect the words we use to describe our children: their behaviors or their personalities.
You might be thinking---duh! But reading this was a great reminder for me...because I struggle in this area.
You see, I don't want the words I speak to determine who my children will be. They are free to have struggles and moods and hardships. That's part of life. They don't need a label to tie them down.
Easy to say---be positive---hard to do. I mean, parenting is HARD work. Someone posted on FB the other day a little sign that said, "Having a two-year-old is like having a blender with no lid." So true! Then there's the baby and the preschooler. Whoa.
I also read a few months ago that it's a good idea to make a list of the things you most appreciate about your children---what's special/cool about them.
So from these two ideas, I wrote on my kitchen chalk board a word to describe each child---a word that is positive and true. A word I can go-to to describe my children in conversation.
It's important to do this because we know our children are almost always listening to us (even if they are listening when we don't want them to and they don't listen when they should be...), and not just our words, but also our tone and our facial expressions.
So here's what I came up with:
Miss E is so much like me. She likes to sleep and can get in a slump easily when things don't go her way. She's a typical oldest child. ;) What I love about her is that though her slumps and moods can really get to me sometimes, she is a very creative young girl. She loves to make up stories, tell us all about Ben (her imaginary friend), "read," dance, create art.
So for Miss E, I'm focusing on the fact that she is creative.
Baby E is a firecracker. She gets into EVERYTHING. A few weeks ago, I caught her wandering around the house at 4:30 a.m., and she said, "Mommy, I scared you!" She had taken lotion and rubbed it all over a wall. She writes on her stomach with markers. She never just walks. She dances, skips, jumps, gallops, bounces. This can be incredibly challenging. I find myself feeling quite overwhelmed with her at times. But a conversation with a friend who has a similar child helped us both realize that our children will never take "no" for an answer. They will be able to overcome anything in life and meet their goals.
So for Baby E, I'm focusing on the fact that she is energetic.
Baby Z is quite young still...not even six months old. My fear is that he will have "third child syndrome" where he's too laid back (not a go-getter), unmotivated, and pampered (which yes, would be our fault). He's a very happy baby, content to grin at anyone.
So for Baby Z, I'm focusing on the fact that he is charming.
What does this mean for you, readers?
1: Make a list of the words you have used/do use that negatively describe your children.
2: Make a list of a few attributes you most admire in your child.
3: Choose one of these attributes (preferably not one focusing on looks) and write it down somewhere you'll see it often. The fridge, your screensaver, the cover photo on your phone.
4: Tell your child that you admire X about him/her (and be sure to talk about what that word means---and give examples), and when parenting conversations come up, use the word. (Yes, conversations about challenges have their place and time...but a convo with a fellow mom at the park probably isn't the time).