As the years of my sons lives are flying by at the speed of a bullet, I am forced to come to terms with the fact that I have to teach my children the harsh realities of the world – that everything is not ice-cream, play-dates and fun times.
The logical side of me knows that I can’t protect them from everything, nor should I. The bumps, falls, disappointments in life can be ground-breaking and can help someone find their sense of self; it’s the tools they need to employ when standing up from these bumps and falls that I want them to have so their recovery is quick and the damage to their ego and confidence is not devastating.
My thought process is if I teach my boys the life lessons that I have now – at age 43 – I can help them roll with the punches, help them get up from some devastating blows and wipe off their hands, clean their faces (always wear clean undies!) and move on, then my boys will be able to live their best life, at every age.
Ya see, my boys are very different from each other, except for one quality – they’re both sensitive like their mom and dad. But I take the cake at crying at commercials, seals being released into the wild, a flower blooming – yes I’m a real softie. An old co-worker of mine called me a “rough-tough crème puff” – a very sensitive soul that can talk a big game but sometimes is too afraid to put the game into play. And as much as I embrace my sensitive side and the sensitive sides of both my children, I don’t want them to fall into the rabbit hole that I did – of being a “yes-man”, being “afraid” to “disagree” and say what I was really thinking because it may make someone feel uncomfortable or gosh forbid they might not be “liked” anymore.
It took me too many years, too much money in therapy and too many tears on my pillow to undo the damage I did because I lacked some serious self-confidence and I won’t have that for my children.
On a daily basis I try my hardest to help my children find their confidence, to be strong, and teach them life lessons that will help them embrace their unique qualities, be empathetic, sympathetic and compassionate, to feel comfortable to use their voice – to not be afraid to ask for things, stick up for themselves and others, and to me a very important tool – the power to say no when they want to.
And damn this is harder than I ever imagined! It’s like climbing Mt. Everest without Sherpas or oxygen.
I’ve read countless articles, googled way too many self-help guru’s, logged onto too many forums, listened to too many people when I realized what I needed to do – two simple things that will help me accomplish these goals – I needed to listen and talk to my children.
Yep, that’s it!
There is big difference between talking to your children and telling what to do: pick up your damn clothes! Or screaming at them because they didn’t pick up their damn clothes and listening to them while you’re doing the dishes or folding the laundry.
Listen and Talk.
Seems easy enough, right? It should be but it’s not. Not when you’re going 100 mph all the time.
But I’m trying. I’m trying very hard.
I am practicing to stop and listen to my children when they talk, ok not 100% of the time because the six year old can talk a lot. I’d say 95% of the time I stop what I am doing and actually listen to my children – stop pouring the milk in my coffee, stop folding the clothes and stop doing my hair to actually turn around and look at my boys eye-to-eye and listen to them talk, and talk and talk. And not interrupt them, just listen to them talk and talk and talk.
89% of that 95% is really just watching them do some trick, listening to them talk cause they want to hear themselves, or me filling some sort of drink request. But I’m trying hard to stop and listen. Not interrupt, not give them some advice but really listen to them. I hope that when the big stuff happens and they need someone to listen to them they know that they can come to me that they will have someone to listen to whatever they have to say.
And I am talking to them all the time. I’d say 75%-80% of the time they are listening to me. I am talking up a storm, I am saying things my parents would never say to me, I am talking about the stuff that is making them uncomfortable – talking about the things they are doing great (thank you for cleaning up the dinner table without being asked), what they need to work on (umm, stop saying those things to your brother we don’t tear people down to make ourselves feel better), and what they don’t need to worry about (don’t worry about not getting 100 on that test, a 95 is great too!). I hope that they know that one day they can talk to me and solicit my advice- maybe ask me what they should buy their girlfriend for her birthday, or that they want to drink because their friends are or not be afraid to tell me that they scratched the car. If I keep talking they’ll absorb at least 70% percent of the 80% of what I am spewing, that’s better than not saying a damn thing.
I think If I continue to hone these two things – I will be able to help my boys learn some of life’s very necessary lessons – lessons that will help them live their lives with more passion, love and self-confidence than I ever had – these lessons will help them enjoy and effortlessly ride the waves that life brings … with clean underwear of course!