Don't just love your children...

...LIKE them.

That's the line that really stood out and SMACKED me upside my thick head today as I read this blog post which I had followed from THIS blog post regarding domesticity (or lack thereof). The internet is really just one big giant rabbit hole and I seem to fall into it on a regular basis. But sometimes...just sometimes...I find a gem. And this is one of them.

Don't just LOVE your children...LIKE them. Go and read the first link...I'll wait.

All done? Good.

The post really spoke to me today because I'm running into some challenges with The Girl that I think fall under the like/love issue. I love my daughter. She is my soul walking around outside my body. She is amazing - strong, creative, funny, helpful, smart. I could go on and on listing her wonderful qualities. And she's a GOOD KID - not rebellious, is respectful, and so on. But there are those days where it seems that all I do is correct her. And I am sure she feels the same way. She's told me as much.

Take today as the example. The Boy and The Girl are participating in the play that our homeschool co-op here in Hawaii is putting on. They were kind enough to hold walk-on scenes for my children (and I am incredibly grateful!). In addition to the parts, The Girl is helping backstage, as am I. Given the fact that she's never been backstage and has not yet learned the ins and outs, I've been explaining things to her, correcting her when mistakes are made, and so on. I do my best to also point out the things she is doing right (and there are many. She's quite intuitive.) But there is a lot to learn when working backstage and, because we're just a day away from the production, no one else has the time to help her. So I do.

Our iPad is another issue. The Boy and The Girl are known to drain the battery and leave me with all of about 8% battery life when I need it (which is when we are out and about...without the wall charger). I'm constantly admonishing them to leave it plugged in when we are at home so that it has a full charge when we're out and about and today, I had to remind her again to plug it in. The consequence for not leaving it plugged in is that you lose access to the iPad the next time we go out. So we started off the morning on the wrong foot.

Then, when we came home this evening, she was distracted and left the gate open. We are housesitting for a friend who has a dog and leaving the gate open means the dog can get out. Thankfully, I thought to check the gate when I let the dog out but I had to then go and speak to her about the gate and the fact that she left it open. Thus, we ended the day on another wrong foot.

All of this is to bring me to the point that she internalizes EVERYTHING. Everything I recommend, everything I enforce, everything I explain, everything I suggest, everything that I point out is taken as a criticism of her character. I do my best to couch anything I say to her in a constructive tone (unless she's done something completely disobedient, at which point I will express my disappointment clearly). I don't sugar-coat things but I try to explain things in a way that indicates that it's not a failure on her part, merely a suggestion of how possibly to do things better or differently. And yet, at the end of the day, she was in tears because "I can't seem to do anything RIGHT today!"

And I wonder what could I have done differently today to help her understand that she's not doing anything WRONG, per se. She is a child and she needs guidance. Many times I let natural consequences provide the guidance but some things (her work backstage or the gate being left open) in which natural consequences do not work.

When I read "Do You Like Your Children? Do They Know It?", it spoke right into this entire situation. I know she knows I love her. But does she know that I *like* her too?

Because I really do.

One of the many books is sitting in my cart on Amazon.com is the book, "Six Ways to Keep the 'Little' in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter From Her Tweens to Her Teens". The Girl and I really enjoyed Dannah Gresh's series "The Secret-Keeper Girl" and I'm hoping that this book will help the two of us continue to enjoy the closeness that we've always had.


- hfs


HMS Defiant said...

If lucky, the children hear the music and not the words. Yeah, that means something but to hear the music and know the love. I hope she gets it. Hallelujah for many years was the music to me and not the words and then it was. Other side of the world.

Crista said...

I didn't like kiddo for many years. I hated being a mom and resented her intrusion into my life. I've never regretted the choice to buck up and take responsibility but I sure resented it. Once I learned to let go and let God....let her be who she is instead of who I wanted her to be and who I dreamed of her being, life improved. Now I simply regret all the years I wasted trying to make this octagonal child fit into my square peg holes. And now I have holes of all shapes and sizes in my life and she fits where she is meant to fit. I am loving watching her grow up, mature, and find her place in the world. Wish I had learned all of this years ago.

Homefront Six said...

I think this all ties in with the posts I did on the metamorphosis of a mother. And obviously this entire thing is a learning process so I don't expect to get it right...ever.

I'm not sure that I resented their intrusion into my life (possibly? I don't know...I was horribly sleep-deprived at that point) but I do know that the survival mode that I tend to enter (especially when MacGyver is gone or uber busy at work) prevents me from really developing a solid relationship with my children. And I don't like that.


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...