Happy New Year!!!
Its that time of year again to think of one’s New Year’s Resolutions, and though I have a small list of personal changes I’d like to make, the one resolution I have as a parent, would be something I learned from my favourite parenting advisor, Ellen Braun and her Raising Small Souls website.
It basically tackles the subject of REACTING vs REFLECTING which I had honestly never thought of before, and when I read it, I was struck by its truth. I swear, parents should really have a school where they can learn how to do things right. In the 5 years I’ve been a parent, I hate to admit it, but I’ve made many, many mistakes. Ok, its not exactly a crime as we’re all allowed to make mistakes, but somehow it just matters so much more when it comes to your kids and the consequences which could be carried by them for the rest of their lives.
So this year my goal is to be a Mom who REFLECTS rather than REACTS. No small task, Ellen likens to learning a new language – tough, but so worth it when you finally become fluent. Also, as rightly commented on my another Mom, we should all practice this on our husbands as well! Read on to see how Ellen explains how important this is.
When a child hears his emotions reflected back to him, he is able to accept, trust, and respect his own feelings. That is the essence of confidence. When a child has the ability to base ideas and decisions upon his thoughts and feelings, he is self-aware and possesses a healthy level of self-esteem.
Imagine with me for a moment that you have just arrived home from a party.
“Honey, I’m so hungry, do we have anything good to eat?” you ask your spouse.
“Hungry!” Spouse exclaims, “How could you possibly be hungry; you ate tons of at the party!”
Or, how about this scenario:
“Sweetheart,” you begin as you turn towards your spouse to express yourself, “I’m really very hot. Would you lower the thermostat please?”
“Hot!” Spouse practically shouts, “I’ll tell you what hot is- go outside in the sun, then you’ll feel hot! When you come back inside, you’ll realize that it’s very comfortable in here.”
Well, how did you feel about that? Did you feel understood? Did you feel that your feelings had been taken into account in a meaningful way? Or, were you left wondering whether your emotions were actually real? Perhaps you were not actually hungry? Could it be that the heat was simply a figment of your imagination? Or, did you wonder whether your spouse could begin to understand you after all?
Imagine traveling in the mini-van with your daughter. “I’m hungry!” she whines during a long stretch of the highway.
“You are not hungry, darling,” You respond to your daughter, “you just ate dinner.”
Daughter has two choices right now:
Choice #1: Believe Parent; if my parent says that I’m not hungry, then that must be the fact. The rumbling in my belly must be my imagination. Unconsciously, the thought process will travel even further: My feelings may not be real. I’ve got to check with my parents to see if my feelings are truly accurate. I am not capable of trusting my own intuition and emotions.
Choice #2: Not believe Parent; if my parent says that I’m not hungry, that means he/she does not know what he is talking about! My own feelings will guide me to knowledge of the truth. Unconsciously, the thought process will travel down a road that looks like this: My parent does not understand me at all. He/she has no idea who I am or what I am feeling.
I recall speaking with two different friends recently on a day that I was suffering from stomach problems.
Friend A said to me, “Why don’t you try this pill or that pill?”
Friend B empathized with, “Oh, Ellen, it’s so hard to get anything done when your stomach is out of sorts… it’s as though the whole you is out of sorts, but your mind is working fine and you want to do things, you just feel like you’re weighed down.”
Obviously, Friend A meant well. However, it was Friend B who reflected my feelings that made me feel comforted.
Like learning a new language, switching gears from reacting to your children’s expressions to the new method of reflecting their inner feelings, will take a bit of time. In the beginning, you may feel awkward with this manner of conversation, yet over time, it will become a natural and habitual way of response.
[tags]New Years Resolutions, parenting tips, parenting advice[/tags]