The following post is from Emily of Live Renewed:
I’m came to an amazing realization recently. My three kids are actually little people. Their own unique person with their own unique personality, likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, fears and worries.
I mean, I understand that my kids are their own person. I’ve known that from the very first time they exerted their own will and resisted a nap or a feeding or let me know, in no uncertain terms, through their screaming and tears that they were not happy with the way things were happening.
I was recently thinking about myself as a child though, and remembering the way that I viewed the world – with awe and wonder, full of opportunities and excitement, a relatively safe, happy, and peaceful place. Very different then the way I see the world now as an adult.
I also remember my own inner thought life. The commentary running through my head about my parents, my sisters, my friends, school, church, basically everything in life – and that’s when I realized: my kids have those same inner thought lives, and I have NO idea what they are thinking, unless they share it with me. Which they do actually, a lot. And it is truly amazing.
When I began to realize that my kids are just like I was when I was little – and how much of my own person I believed myself to be — or really, I actually was when I was a kid — I began to look at them in a whole different light. I began to realize how truly awesome my kids are.
I have always loved my children strongly and deeply, of course. But I think often as parents we see our kids as extensions of ourselves. And because we can be hard on ourselves, focusing too much on our weaknesses and failures and not enough on our strengths and successes, sometimes it seems like we too easily do the same to our kids. And we spend so much time with them that we can miss the amazing person that is developing right before our eyes.
I’ve been learning a lot about my own personality lately; I’m an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Seeing my own innate ways of doing things, and the good and not so lovely parts of my personality, has really helped me to understand myself so much better and give myself grace in different situations.
And then I realized that I can do the same thing with my kids. I can understand and appreciate their own unique personalities and how they are similar, and so very different, from me.
By taking the time to really observe and listen to our kids, we can learn about a lot about them. What makes them tick, what makes them happy, upset, frustrated, scared, excited, sad, and so much more. When we really learn about them, we can really know them, deep down. And when we know them we can appreciate them for the unique and awesome person that they are.
I love to think about how amazing they will each be as they grow into teenagers, young adults, and even older adults! Won’t that be such an unbelievable transformation to watch happening right before our eyes?!
When I look at my kids with a sense of understanding mixed with amazement, it changes the way that I see them. Instead of seeing how he left his shoes, coat, and backpack in a pile on the floor when he got home from school instead of putting them away like he’s supposed to, I see how excited my son was to run into the kitchen and show me his painting. He’s studying famous painters, and he wanted to paint the water lilies like Monet.
It is amazing and beautiful. Maybe he has a talent for art and will continue to grow in his talent and love painting when he grows up?
And the really cool thing is that this is not just true of my kids; it’s true of yours too. Our kids are truly AWESOME! So full of wonder and awe, hopes and dreams, fears and worries, opportunities and potential!
And if we see it in them, they’ll start to see it in themselves.
Motherhood can be hard, days can be long, and kids can definitely be annoying and frustrating at times. I don’t want to minimize any of that. But our view of our kids can change when we stop looking at all the things they’re doing wrong; all the ways they’re not obeying, or fighting with their siblings, or leaving a mess in their wake, or the list goes on and on.
As we focus on Joyful Motherhood this month, let’s instead focus on every kind word they speak in the middle of the harsh ones, every artistic creation in the midst of the coloring on the floor, the walls, and their own body, every time they share their inner thoughts with us in the midst of the screaming and stamping their feet because they trust us to carry those secret thoughts with compassion and care and not anger and frustration.
Maybe you’ve already figured out this beautiful and amazing realization about your awesome kids and I’m just late to the party. But I’m pretty sure we could all use this gentle reminder in the midst of dirty dishes, and laundry piles, and whiny voices, and temper-tantrums, and just the messiness of life. They way that we view our kids can change our responses to them even when things are hard. And don’t they deserve that from us?
My kids are awesome. Truly amazing people. And so are yours.
|Emily McClements is passionate about living with compassion and caring for creation in a way that will impact the world. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.|