When I look at books in the parenting aisle of a book store, it's quickly apparant that the majority of them have to do with how we can teach our children. There's a title for just about everything under the sun-How to teach children manners, math, reading, respect for the environment, obedience, patience, the list goes on and on. I am not going to downplay any of the great titles out there, I've learned a lot of resourceful parenting skills from reading these books, but I want to propose another perspective. What if, in the midst of trying so hard to teach our little ones, we ALSO chose to let them teach us? I'm not proposing that we discontinue teaching our children important life skills, only that we focus JUST as wholeheartedly on developing those life skills ourselves. This may sound simple but actually (and you know this if you've truly tried it) it's not. Just last night I had a lesson in patience as my 3 children repeatedly popped out of their bedrooms with different requests after lights out-a band aid, water, lost lego...you know what this is like! My change in perpsective is coming from approaching these scenarios not only as a time to teach my children (where the band aids are and how to put them on, how to get their own water, it's not time to play with legos after the lights are out...) but also as a time to teach myself (keep a calm 'matter of fact' tone, remember that the goal, even when disciplining, is to build the relationship with my child...). What are the tactics I need to employ to stay calm in the midst of chaos? What do I need to do on a regular basis to become the kind of person I am trying so hard to teach my children to be? The old saying is true and it comes in many forms but the bottom line is this: children will do what you do before they do what you say. How do you respond when something doesn't turn out your way? When you're served a food you don't like? When you get cut off in traffic? When you don't get enough sleep? (ouch, that last one is tough for me!) While your children's actions and the actions of those around you are not in your control, your responses to them most certainly are. What will they be today?!
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What if parenting is just as much about your growth as it is your children's?
My perspective on parenting has been growing and changing since I 'accepted' the position 7+ years ago. What if the whole journey has more to do with my own growth than that of my chidlren?