I like reading about parenting. I like learning about parenting. And I like writing about parenting. But sometimes I learn something so incredible while reading that I can't write about it because the original author has put it absolutely perfectly the first time.
This is one of those times.
I stumbled upon this article not 30 minutes ago and I've been sitting here reading and re-reading it. I hate it. I hate it because it shines a light on my behaviours in an uncomfortable way.
But I love it for that exact same reason.
Here it is in it's entirety.
The Sentence That Changed the Way I Parent. Forever.
I really enjoy listening to different perspectives about parenting. Sometimes when I’m driving I will tune in to different podcasts about parenting. I usually don’t agree 100% with everything I hear, but I take away bits and pieces that resonate with me. I've listened to podcasts that range from super strict parenting styles to very relaxed and liberal styles and everything in between. I like different aspects from both! If you have any podcasts that you love, tell me about them in the comments section please.
So one day, I’m in the car listening to an audiobook (The Conscious Parent, by Shefali Tsabury). She talks a lot about parenting with intention and seeing ourselves through our children, how they can be a mirror into our own soul. All the sudden a powerful thought came to me and my whole world changed in one second. “How would you feel if your spouse talked to you the way you talk to your child.” I paused the audiobook. I sat and let that thought sink in for a minute.
Ok this is big. This is mind blowing.
First of all, if Sean so much as raises his voice towards me-I cry. Almost immediately. I hate being yelled at, it crushes my spirit. And how often do I raise my voice towards my kids?
If Sean acts semi-irritated or annoyed with me, it hurts my feelings. I feel less important or like I’m bothersome and then I close off emotionally because it makes me feel misunderstood. And how often do I sound irritated when my kids are trying to get my attention? Yes, they can be very demanding of my attention at times, “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!” and I lose my cool but really, they just want me to acknowledge them.
Or what about when I talk to them like they’re babies! I would go nuts if my husband used a condescending voice when he explained things to me! “What! Do you think I’m an idiot!?” I’d say. And how often do I forget to speak to them with dignity as if they are capable of understanding.
And don’t get me started on phones… when I’m talking to my husband and he looks at his phone or texts someone or isn’t giving me eye contact, I get so sassy. And how often do I continue my task while my kid asks me something, or stay on my phone instead of getting down on my kids level and talking eye to eye?
I began to think about how I treat my spouse with respect and honour, yet I talk down to my kids. I don’t want to be like that. I never even thought about mindfully respecting them. As a mom, I’m just trying to maintain sanity some days. Keeping them fed, bathed, and alive is the goal! Other days I focus more on rules or behavior but the real issue is; am I listening to their heart? Am I catering to their emotional needs and not just their physical needs?
When they feel respected, heard, important, listened to, and understood…they don’t act out as much! Duh, right? They are people just like me, only smaller. They look like me, they talk like me-why do I forget that they feel, like me, too!
Why do we look at our kids like they are dogs that need to be trained rather than people that need to be understood? It’s so easy to think our job is to tell them everything they need to do. And yes, we need to guide and direct them. But sometimes we just need to listen to their point of view too. We don’t have to give them full reign over everything, but we certainly can listen to what they feel and help guide them through it.
Since hearing this one sentence that changed my whole heart, I have worked so much on how I show respect to my kids. Sean and I are the “loves of their life” right now. We are showing them and teaching them what love is. The way in which we treat them now, shows them what’s acceptable. If we show them love, respect and dignity then they will give and expect that from their spouse one day. If I model good behavior and positive communication, they will take that into their own marriage. I don’t always get it right but I am so much more intentional now.
So let that sink in, “how would you feel if your spouse talked to you the way you talk to your child?”
Heavy stuff, isn't it. Perspective is a wonderful thing.