Silent Messages

Sometimes parenting is easy, and sometimes it is frustrating and impossible. I’ve said many times that the highest highs and the lowest lows I’ve ever experienced have been in my parenting role. One thing I know for sure … just as I think I have it all figured out, I realize how much more I need to learn.

There is a Jewish Proverb that states, “A mother understands what a child does not say.” Have you ever had a feeling and followed that feeling until you found the problem? Tonight, I thought I was going into the kitchen just to get a Diet Coke only to realize I was following my heart. I found my 20-year-old quietly working on her computer. When I called out to her across the room, she yelled back without looking up, “Good night,” just like she always does. However, there was something in her tone that said, “I need to talk.” I walked over and asked, “Are you okay?” and she replied, “Yes.” When I asked why she wouldn’t look up at me, she slowly turned her face. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Because my face wouldn’t have matched my words.” Moms just know. After a long talk and many more tears, we came up with a plan to make things better.

I can’t fix her problems. I wish I could kiss her skinned heart and make it all better. However, one thing that I know for sure is that I haven’t outgrown the need of my parents; and I hope that my grown children never outgrow the need to “talk it out” with me. I want to be the best mom and grandmother that I can be, and that means I spend time listening and talking with my children and grandchildren.

I compiled these five simple parenting tips for a presentation I made this week, and it seems appropriate to share them here:

1.     Great parenting begins with a healthy parent. Take care of yourself so that you can take great care of your child. Be a great role model; model self-love.

2.     Children can read the heart, and they can spot a phony. Make sure your words match your eyes, and your actions match your words. Don’t lie to your children.

3.     Have high expectations of your child but make sure that you are not living vicariously through him. Help him pursue his dreams and build on his talents.

4.     Parent each child as an individual. Children will respond differently and what works for one child may not work for another. Change it up.

5.     Guard your words. Words hurt. Know when to walk away or take a break. Ask for forgiveness when you make a mistake. No one is perfect, and children need to see parents handle failure successfully.

Listen to your child’s silent messages. What is she NOT saying that she wants you to hear?

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Center, Inc.

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