Parenting is the most important job in the world, in my opinion. Parents are presented with a little person with a brain that is like an empty sponge, ready to learn through their experiences. No instruction book comes with the birth of a child. There are lots of books full of advice, some good, some full of misinformation and garbage. I think all parents want to avoid the mistakes their parents made, but will certainly make their own missteps. I want to share some stories and thoughts to show how common sense approaches can solve some issues along the way.
I recently got to get up close and personal with my three-year old Great Grand-Daughter. I had only had a few encounters with her since she was born. I already had a pretty good connection with her six-year-old brother. Once I got to see the three-year old when she was a few months old, and the other two visits were in a group setting, and she looked at me as a stranger. This past week-end I visited her home where she felt safe, and our visit went quite differently. I took gifts, huge fleece blankets, large enough to be bedspreads. She was pleased with her gift, but here is the part of the story I want to share. She has a reputation for being a little pill. During our visit she got a huge frown on her face and started whining. I said “Come over here and let me hug that frown away”. She ran over with a huge smile and let me hug her. The point is I did not scold her for the frown. I gave her a different option while acknowledging her frown without a reprimand. She felt “respected” for having her frown and was presented with an alternative, which she chose, which gave her a sense of power. My offer to hug her frown away was also a distraction. She then said, “Come help me make my bed with my new blanket”. Off we went and did just that, laughing all the way to her bedroom.
Later in the day I heard stories about her reaction when she feels unhappy or displeased. She growls. When we were alone I asked her if she would growl for me, and she did. I said “If you really growled at me for real that would scare me and make me unhappy”. During the day I asked her to growl, and when she did I would ask if the growl was real or pretend. “Pretend” was always her answer. We turned those exchanges into a game. I would guess that if in the future she growls at me and I ask her if the growl is for real she will probably say it is not. If she says yes the growl is real I will ask her if the growl is a big growl or a little one. My intuition tells me that it might be a little one, but what ever her answer is it will give us a chance to talk about what she is unhappy about to want or need to growl. Our exchange helped take the power away from the growl. Later in the day she and I and her mother went to a baby shower that was held in a beautiful outdoor setting. I got so many hugs and kisses for the rest of the day that I was in Great Grandma Heaven.
Both of these stories were teaching moments where we both showed respect for one another and were open to sharing feelings. It is never too early to begin teaching respect and the willingness to listen to one another.
A second story I want to share happened about seven years ago. I had been a widow for about four years and was invited to live in a mother-in-law apartment at my sons home where he, his wife and four kids lived. One grandson was leaving for college and three kids were still at home with the youngest being a ten-year old girl. One day soon after I moved in my granddaughter came down and said, “By the way I am not too happy that you moved in down here”. I replied ” Tell me why”. She replied that her mom and dad bossed her, her brothers bossed her, her other grandmother, who lived near by, bossed her, and now she had another boss with me living downstairs. I thought for a minute and said, “I will make a deal with you. I will not boss you unless I see you doing something that might be harmful to you.” She thought for a minute, smiled and said”Deal”. And she is now 17 and we have had a delightful relationship ever since. See how respect and honest communication diverted something that could have ended badly?
My stories are examples of some common sense parenting ideas. Everyone needs to feel and act with respect and wants to be heard with an open and loving heart, at every level. I also think trust is a byproduct that enters into the equation. If these kinds of tactics are used at an early age a pattern of respect and communication is forged, and when the rebellious years come, and they will, it will be easier to ride out the storm with successful outcomes, in my opinion. So I have shared some mini lessons on parenting that might bring a little peace for families now and then. I would love to hear others share their success stories in my comment section, because no one have all of the answers, so sharing can benefit many. I have written other blogs on parenting that might be of interest. I would love to hear from all who are interested in sharing.