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Children are our Mirrors

04.17.10

Parenting is one of those things that keeps me on my toes.  I think I’ve mastered something, and then a few days later, I realize that I’ve fallen back into the old, immature ways.

For example, last weekend, we were with some friends at an overnight event, then visited a children museum.  I watched with wonder how this friend of mine deals with her daughter’s odd comments, sassy back-talk, and attempts at provoking anger.  How did this mom respond?  She did nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And it worked beautifully!  This mom ignored about 50% of what her daughter said and did.  I was amazed.  Her calm and gentle approach to life was literally teaching her daughters how to be calm and gentle.  She was teaching them to ignore the goofy stuff that others say and do.  She was teaching them to focus on the more important things in life.  Her positive and encouraging approach was remarkable.

I decided I wanted to live that way with my daughter.  So, I even wrote a little note to myself, on the lid of my protein shake that I drink every morning:  “Let it go.  Move on. Ignore 50%.  Demonstrate self-care.  Use “I” statements.”  This reminds me to let things go.  My daughter still says the goofy, inappropriate stuff that she always has.  Now I don’t react.  I pretend I didn’t hear it.  I move on.  I only calmly stick with my agenda of being a positive parent.  And when I can do those things, it is amazing how well we get along.

I was visiting a single mother the other day, in her home, to observe her, and l give her feedback for her parenting.  She told me that since she has a new medication for her anxiety, that she has noticed a decrease in her own daughter’s inappropriate behaviors.    When this mom’s anxiety was very high, her daughter’s behaviors were frequently inappropriate.  When the mom’s anxiety was lowered, her daughter’s behaviors improved.

I commented that our children are like mirrors.  We get to see what we need to work on, if we pay attention.  I said, “Suppose our children leave big messes around the house.  We get to ask ourselves, “Do I need to improve cleaning up my clutter?”  In other words, our children reflect our own behaviors back to us.  We are a powerful role model for the behaviors in our lives, for better or worse.”  She nodded in agreement.  Her mother laughed.

If our children are handling their anger inappropriately, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I handling my anger appropriately?  Do I role model for my children how a person is supposed to act when they are very angry?”

If our children are fearful of others, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I fearful of others?  Do I role model for my children how a person is supposed to act when they are with others?”

If our children are irresponsible with money, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I handling my money appropriately?  Do I role model for my children how a person is supposed to act when spending, saving, and giving money?”

You get the idea.  Everything we say and do is being imitated by our children.  Do not think that they don’t notice us.  We are given a golden opportunity to grow and change when we become parents, because our children will reflect back to us the areas we need to improve.

If you would like a home visit, with some parenting support and feedback, please contact me at 847-962-5234.  I provide home visits for $80 per hour, and will give you a type-written report within 7 days.   Please let me know how I may serve you and your family.

parenting resources

helpful websites

  • Love and Logic
    Bestselling author Jim Fay, founder of the "Love and Logic" process.
  • Focus on The Family
    Provides parenting advice and other family issues from a Christian perspective. Founded by Dr. James Dobson.
  • TroubledWith: Parenting Children
    Resources dealing with various common childhood issues and what a parent can do.