Listen, Learn and Love

The following post is from Amanda of OhAmanda.com and Impress Your Kids:

listening to children
source: pomegranates

We start the New Year late around here. My daughter’s birthday is the 5th of January; so, with her birthday party sometime that first week or second weekend, I’m usually just sticking my head out of “the holidays” in the middle of January! True to form, this past week, our first week back to school has taken some getting used to.

We do a hybrid home- school, kind of a University model where she goes to school two days a week and is home-schooled three days. On our first full home-school day, my kindergarten daughter was supposed to be making a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. She was to color a group of kids, the American Flag and Dr. King himself. Well, when she realized how many pages of coloring that would be, she just flipped. It was total meltdown.

I bee-lined to her desk and rearranged her papers, angrily marking the places she needed to color. I was shooting daggers at her with my eyes. And next thing I know she’s yelling, “You’re making me color all this because YOU DON’T LIKE ME!” This is the same girl who wanted to have a sleepover with me. I felt sick inside.

I pulled my little girl into my arms, cuddled her on her bed and said, “Mommy will always, ALWAYS, no matter what, love you. There is nothing you can do to make me not love you.” We talked for several minutes and I could tell there was still something bothering her. She finally managed to tell me that she felt like I was the one that lost my cool. In fact, she quoted a Scripture at me and told me I had let my anger run wild!

I’ve been mulling this conversation over in my head for a few days now. And I’ve come to some conclusions. Which have also become my New-Year’s-I-Need-To-Be-A-Better-Mom-Resolutions:

1. I’m just like my kids. They are just like me. When my daughter said she felt like I didn’t like her, you know what I felt like? Like she didn’t like me. My ego is fragile. And so is hers. I need to remember she’s a person, too.

2. My inside and outside need to line up. When my kids aggravate me, I tend to let it out for them to see. But can they still see the love I have for them? One conversation, one argument, one disparaging look, one disgusted sigh can shatter a child’s heart. I need to coat even my discipline, aggravation and yes, anger with love. They need to see that even when I’m upset, it’s the actions I’m upset at–not the child.

3. I need to practice what I preach. When my daughter quoted a Scripture at me, I knew it was for real. We use Scripture in our house as truth. And if she saw me acting against what my husband and I teach her—well, wow, I just negated everything I’ve taught her. I need to let Truth be Truth and follow it more closely than I expect her to.

These three things are not the makings of a parenting book. They are just three little ideas that have been niggling at the back of my mind. They started because I listened to my daughter. They came out because I let her talk. I can only pray that this discussion, this give-and-take will be the norm in our relationship. I want my children to know that I interact with them based on love. Not a parenting book, strategy or philosophy–and certainly not out of my fickle emotions.

So, my parenting resolution for this year? Listen. Learn. And most importantly: Love.

How do you love your kids?

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at OhAmanda.com and Impress Your Kids. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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