Let them talk while we listen
There’s a young mom we know whom we have come to deeply admire. She posts great pictures on her public Instagram account and one recently caught our attention and touched our hearts.
She was holding her three year old on one hip. His head was tucked into his chest. In the other hand, she was holding a sign that said, “He’s not giving me a hard time. He’s having a hard time.”
This sweet mom sees her little boy. She’s not too caught up in keeping the house clean or making food or taking care of her three year old’s little brother or running a small business. In the moment that her boy is crying or pulling on her or refusing to do what she has asked, she is choosing to stop and see him – really see him.
Underneath her post she wrote, “Time and time again, I’ve noticed that when he is grumpy, all I have to do is sit down and talk with him and play with him for a little while instead of telling him to stop whining and yelling. He’s just trying to process all the emotions of being a toddler … and that’s a ROUGH life … right?”
In the fleeting moment that we fail to see our child and we allow harsh words with bitter tones to fly out of our scowling, red and angry faces, we face the potential of inflicting a wound on their soul. And what may be gone for us in an instant could last a lifetime in their memory.
We need to be willing to learn and understand our child’s needs at every developmental level.
Do you have a tendency to lecture? Really seeing our kids often means hearing them out all the way — letting them do most of the talking while we do all of the listening.
You may have told your six year old a thousand times to close the door behind him when he comes in the house but his developing brain has not encoded it yet. Maybe he needs a sign on the door that reminds him to push it closed behind him or jingle bells tied to the door knob, giving him a melodic cue to turn around and shut the door all the way.
When our melancholy and cantankerous teen shuffles by, we need to remember that he is trying to manage a cacophony of emotions while also trying to figure out how he feels about himself and how he wants his peers to perceive him. In that moment, we need to see him and not take his attitude personally but instead wait patiently for those moments when he is cheerful and enthusiastic and be ready to enjoy them with him.
When we choose to really see our children, we give them the freedom to become their best selves and we get the blessed opportunity to more fully enjoy them.
Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman are mothers with nine children between them, from an attorney to a pre-schooler, and one on the autism spectrum. Together they host a nationally syndicated radio show, “POP Parenting.” They are also freelance writers and international speakers. Get more information on their website, jenniandjody.com.