I had a horrible experience last week that shook me up pretty good. I think another gray hair or two showed up just to add to the trauma! My 13 year old made a statement that made me want to curl up and withdraw from life completely – for about 5 minutes. Then I decided to feel sorry for myself for another 15 minutes (okay I didn’t time it…). Then I asked myself what the heck I was going to do with what she said. Yes, I reacted and yes I felt bad about my reaction, but I also knew that this is where the rubber was going to meet the road. She’s a smart kid – she even wrote a song about how smart she is. That’s my girl! I knew I needed to heed her emotions and her words.
In the days since I’ve experienced a lot of reflection, some not-so-great inner dialogue, it’s kept me awake at night and then there’s the..gray…hair. My conclusion? There’s more than an element of truth to what she said. She’s a teenager and I SO wanted to use that as an excuse to write off those words ringing over and over in my head. Teenagers. Hmph. The daunting questions became, “Why did it hurt so much? Why couldn’t I write it off?”
Reality as seen through the eyes of my daughter is pretty revealing. I guess through the past several months I’ve become far too serious and un-fun. In trying to protect my kids’ emotions I haven’t communicated as openly as I used to, which has led to some disturbing misunderstandings of our current situation and our future. Even though I have an idea about what’s going on and where I’m headed, I haven’t done a very stellar job in communicating that to the beautiful children who ‘get to’ join me on this wonderful adventure called life.
In order to demonstrate that I truly heard her and that I do consider what she says as important and valuable, I’m spending more time on positive and uplifting activities. I’m practicing the skills and observations I teach (novel concept) regarding the power of my own words, and I’m consciously looking for opportunities to have fun at home. Most people who know me would say being goofy is inherently who I am, but obviously it’s not what my kids have been seeing in me.
Am I being hard on myself? Yes. Do I need to be? Yes. Was she right? Uh huh. As parents we are often too hard on ourselves, but there are definitely moments in time when we need to stop and really listen to the voices of our children. They are, after all, the recipients of our actions, attitudes and belief systems.
Thought to Consider:
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo Buscaglia