My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Learning to Cherish my Little People

I have 4 best friends that I spend nearly all my time with. Their names are Matthew (my husband), and Logan, Jasna, and Daisy - my little people. I have spent a lot of the past 10 years "caring" for these little people, meeting their physical and emotional needs, but not really knowing them. People preach about "quality time" and carting your kids to as many activities as possible to help them be "well rounded" and "socialized". I have tried these ideas out and they've been ok, but not ideal.

I am taking a different approach.
We have learned to stay home A LOT. We work together, play together, laugh together, cry together, pray together, read together, and so much more. We're not always running here and there and we do our best not to be consumed with "busyness". Even school takes a backseat to our family time. Learning is very important, but bookwork is not as important as building relationships with your family. 

Recently, it was laid on my heart that I don't truly know my children's hearts. Sure, I know how they act up and what they don't like to eat and what they want for Christmas and who their friends are and if their laundry needs washing or noses need wiping. I kinda know what to expect from them in different situations. Some are more "well-behaved" than others. But now I am learning to see the inside of my little people.

My 3 year old is a delight and a joy - half the time. The other half is quite the opposite. Opposite of delightful and joyful. We've been in a back-and-forth battle with behavior. When I see my little girl throwing a HUGE fit, I am choosing to no longer take it personally and to no longer see it as a battle of wills. I see a little girl who needs guidance and love - MORE THAN ANYTHING! She doesn't know what she wants or what's good for her. She doesn't know how to do life. No one has taught her, and so she's trying to figure it out.

A lot of adults can't even figure out how to do life well, much less a 3 year old.

So part of my job description is helping her learn how to do life. Minute by minute, day by day. Gentle words with kindness and patience and long-suffering is needed to bring about the change in their habits and lives. They're not going to do what's right just because they know what's right. We need to help them get there. Day by day. Tantrum by tantrum.

There is a balance that is hard to find and that is being the AUTHORITY in their lives, but mixing it with gentleness, kindness, and mercy. Authority doesn't have to be harsh. It is firm, but it is loving. In order to have authority in my kids' lives, I have to have a relationship with them. I can't just boss them around and expect that my instructions are going to be heeded. I have to have their hearts. I have to fellowship with my kids.

How do I have my kids hearts?

Take time to talk with them. Listening to them and letting them guide the conversation. With my 10 yr old son, we talk about Bowser's Inside Story (his DS game he plays all the time). He talks about battles and aliens and all kinds of weird stuff. So I really listen. I ask him questions about how he defeats the enemies (and sometimes we talk about our Spiritual enemies and how we defeat those). When I talk to my 3 yr old daughter, it's all castles and princesses and beautiful tea parties, etc. We talk about life, but in her terms and on her turf. (at a tea party)

She said to me, yesterday, "Mama, when you're angry with me it makes Jesus bery sad, so please you be happy with me?" This was out of the blue, while she was playing. It made me chuckle, but it's good to know she's thinking about these things. Sometimes she'll correct her older brother with words she's heard from me. (sometimes that's good, sometimes not lol)

My point in all this is that you can't just herd your kids around like cattle. Making sure they're fed and clean and rested isn't enough. It doesn't take a lot of time to have a relationship with your kid, it just takes being intentional and consistent.

Example: (probably shared this one before, but it's one of my favorites)
At 11 pm a couple weeks ago, I was putting my 3 yr old in bed. (she is usually in bed by 7, but had had a very long nap). She hung her head and said, "Mama, you agot (forgot) to have a tea party with me." followed by a sigh. I looked at the clock and thought, "Why not?" I raced her to the kitchen table, pulled out my tea cups and saucers, poured the imaginary tea and we both said, "Cheers!" and drank up! The tea party took 1 minute. 1 minute. And I tucked a very happy girl in her bed that night.

I'm not saying that we need to cater to our kids and that they should get their way all the time and always have what they want. I just think we could do a little more in the relationship building department. If they love you and they know you love them because they've experienced your love and time, they will listen to what you have to say. They will respect your authority. How much better to have a kid do what you say because they love you and want to please you, than to have them do it out of fear or because they HAVE TO OR ELSE! That's not going to build a lasting relationship.

Just a few things I've learned about my kids lately:
-Jasna can't wait to get to heaven to see Jesus' "castle". She is very affectionate and helpful. She helps pack Daddy's lunch every day :)
-Logan longs for dates with his mom, with no distractions. (ie. little kids, phones, computers, etc) He is great with his baby sister and is a very thoughtful child.
-Daisy loves to be with me and under my feet. She is learning to play games now! I tell her to say "Mama" and she'll say "Dada" and then throw her head back laughing! What a goof! :)
 I can't wait to learn more! What a blessing it is to be with these little people all the time! I've always got my friends over. There's always someone to talk to, someone to encourage, someone to help, someone to play with, someone to teach, someone to listen to. It's comforting and quite enjoyable :)

1 comment:

  1. Soo powerful Rachel. This is huge. Even as an adult, the only pain to this day that I remember from my childhood is that my parents never really knew me. (and still don't, but that's besides the point.) I don't condemn them, just learn from them.
    Just think that you are depositing pure gold into their lives, for every minute of undivided attention you're able to give! Teaching them they are valuable, as they are! Praise God for your revelation so early in their lives.
    Love the tea party story, and the 'mama' 'papa' story :)