Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm Not Like You

I could see the hurt behind her eyes the minute the words were out of my mouth, but I could not recall them.  I wanted to, but I could not find the words.  They were stuck in my throat.

“I’m not like you,” I had said.

Even if I could have taken them back, I don’t think she would have believed me.  The damage was already done.

I had meant the words.  I suppose that’s why I couldn’t unsay them.

“I don’t think I’ll be the same kind of parent that you were,” I had also said.

We were having a discussion on parenting.  I was home from college for the weekend.  I was studying Child Development and Family Relations as part of my Early Childhood Education major.   I loved what I was learning. 

“It’s not that you did anything wrong…”  I tried to soften the blow.  “It’s just that we’re two different people.”

She gave me that look.  The look that said “You think you know everything.”
I suppose I did think that.  My Mom wasn’t perfect and I knew it.  I saw her flaws and I wanted to be different.   I didn’t want to repeat her mistakes.

“You’ll be surprised,” she said.   “You’ll be surprised to find out how much you are like me.”  It’s all the ammunition she had.

She was right about that, though I didn’t see it at first.

After the parenting classes, the real parenting began, and I was surprised at how often I opened my mouth and heard my mother’s voice come out.   I found myself repeating  her words, her methods.  I tweaked her methods some, but less than I had planned.
As I get older, I often see her in my mirror and I notice that I mirror her in other ways.   She passed her love of writing on to me and her love for music.  Like her, I love to make a difference, hate injustice, and often bite off more than I can chew.

I no longer question her parenting methods because I know that she did the best she could and loved me more than anyone else ever could.  Those are the first two laws of parenting.
Today is her birthday, and though I can no longer visit her, I can remember her with gratitude and hope that she is happy with the woman I have become. 

I hope she smiles when she sees that I am like her after all.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mom.

Linda Garner

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Is Work a Dirty Word in you House?

Are you fun to do chores with? 

Are you too stern? 

Too Critical? 

Is work a dirty word in your house?

Your attitude about chores will influence your child.

If you can enjoy the process and appreciate your child’s efforts, your child will absorb your positive attitude.  If you are impatient and critical your child will absorb your negativity.  If you resent the time spent teaching your child how to do chores, your child may become resistant.

Being positive about work may not solve all your problems, but it will go a long way to creating an atmosphere where working together feels good.

Children don’t learn from criticism.  No one enjoys being criticized.  Criticism makes people feel bad.  Encouragement feels so much better.

Of course you will need to make corrections, but choose your words carefully. Careless words are hard to recall and can damage tender feelings.

Sincere praise can go a long way to making work more enjoyable.  Can praise be overdone?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  Not if it’s meaningful. When I notice that a child is not really doing their part, I swallow my criticism and look for something to praise.

I’m not perfect at this, but when I do it right, it makes all the difference.

It sounds like this:  I noticed that you worked really hard on the sink.  I noticed that you swept the floor without being reminded.  I noticed that you cleaned up after yourself. “I noticed” is a powerful way to start this game, which is really a form of validation.

We need our children to help around the house.  They need to feel validated.  They need to feel needed.  You can validate by noticing and appreciating their efforts, even when their efforts are less than perfect.

Don’t underestimate the value of teaching children to work.  Begin early and be persistent.  Kids who know how to work have an advantage over kids who don’t.

Linda Garner