Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Difficulty of Always Being There

I really think the most difficult thing about being a mommy is the constant necessity of being there. I read a child training book once that suggested something many others have not. It indicated that most (if not all) children will do anything for any grown-up that will bother to give them the time of day on a regular basis. So often it is easy to dismiss the questions of very young children. Or to brush aside their concerns or childish observations and prattle(and let me tell you--mine know how to prattle!). It was saying that to forge healthy relationships with your children, effort must be made to engage with them often, and on their level. That means most of the time making eye contact, listening actively, and giving responses that are appropriate to the age of the child. This also means frequently entering into their play, pretending with them, explaining to them how the world works, answering all the thousands of how and why questions.
Ever since reading this explanation, I have tried to limit the times when I have said, "not now, later", to the exception, rather than the rule. I try to take the time to listen to them, engage, and make eye contact with them, and everything I said above. I don't do this perfectly, and sometimes find myself doing exactly the opposite. But it is my experience, that when I consistently give my children the value of my time and undivided attention, everyone feels better. They interact with each other better, they handle discipline and chastisement better, and when I truly can't take a few minutes to listen, due to a task I am involved in, they seem to be more willing to wait patiently for a time when mommy is more free.
This doesn't mean that children don't need to learn to wait, or to not interrupt, or how to do so politely--they do. We try our hardest to teach good table manners, please, thank-you, excuse me and the rest, and when we say "not right now" we do mean it. I think, however, that if we want their attention when we have something important to say to them during the course of their childhood and later years, they are much more willing to receive it if they are used to interacting and talking, and know that their opinions, ideas, and questions are considered just as valuable as ours.
Also, I think this is the biggest reason "interactive" toys are so popular today. It's much much easier to give a child a toy that feigns interaction than to interact with that child ourselves. It's easier to put the child in front of a tv or computer screen that will engage him than to engage him ourselves.

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please be kind, folks:) Differences of opinion are fine, but let the love of Christ reign here...