I know that it's not the norm now, to hear that children should be seen and not heard. I know that we are told to value our children, and put them first. To be good parents. Don't spank, don't do time-outs, don't do this or that. That's good to hear, but it's not enough. Children aren't respected like adults are. How are they going to learn respect for themselves and each other if we don't show them how? We start when they are very young, and try to teach our toddlers not to snatch from other toddlers. I think it's something they do naturally because they don't know it hurts feelings, but I also think that they pick up so much of their behavior from us, their parents. How often do we snatch away things they shouldn't have (even if it's not necessarily dangerous for them to have)? How about how we talk to them? Do we use the same kindness we would use in talking to the bank teller, or the lady at the checkout, or the barista at the coffee shop? Why not? WHy are we short with them? Why are we exasperated when they won't take "no" for an answer? It's simple. They are children. They are not always easy to deal with. They have huge feelings that they haven't learned how to control yet (seriously, aren't we all still working on the whole, self control thing?). This is something I am working on. I want to treat my little ones with respect. Just as much respect as I want to be treated with. Before I tell them to do (or not to do) something, I need to think about it, and make sure I know why I'm requesting this. Why do I want my daughter to change her mis-matched clothes before we leave the house? Is it because I think people will think I'm 'one of those moms who doesn't have it all together and just lets her kids run around looking like...well, kids? Or is it because I have an eye for fashion and I can't bear it that she's wearing that top with those leggings! Insert confession: I'm a little OCD. Not majorly, but it's there.
When I analyze the Why in my requesting my daughter to change her outfit, I notice that I'm not respecting who she is. She is a brilliant child, with an individual mind and her own taste in colors and patterns. I shouldn't be forcing my own preferences on her just because it doesn't look like I think it should. That's disrespecting her, and inadvertently telling her that her choices aren't good enough. That's not how I want to be treating my daughter. I want her to grow up being confident and strong, and that strength and security doesn't just appear when you're all grown up. I believe I can help her with that by giving her a safe place to express who she is, and supporting her with all I've got! There is so much more to write about concerning this, but I don't want to bog you down (heck, I'm bogging myself down already). This is a journey for me. Here's a challenge. Next time you're charged with a little one, and you're about to give them an order, put yourself in their place. Imagine how tall you are from their point of view, and how much bigger your emotions are to them, because if you are their parent, then you're their world. Would you want to be told what you're about to tell them? How would you want to be told? What tone of voice would you long to hear? Trust me on this, I'm preaching to the choir. I needed to write this because I needed to read this.