November 18th 2014 - One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a good sense of self. To be raised with the knowledge that it is okay, maybe even wonderful, that you are who you are. How powerful it is to realize that your imperfections can be your greatest strengths. Imperfection is what makes us unique and beautiful. How potent to know that one does not need to be perfect to be successful.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “She just needs to find herself”? Maybe you had to undertake this journey yourself. Where does this sense of being lost stem from? What does it mean? When we try to conform to what our parents, friends, society expects of us we fail to develop our own sense of self.
We often encourage our children to conform to society with the excuse that we don’t want them to be hurt. The truth is, we don’t want to be seen as too different. We select a group and stick with them even when we don’t agree with some of their beliefs. So often we teach our children, through our actions, not to form strong convictions, or at least, not to stand up for them. We fear ridicule. This is natural, however it’s not healthy.
When we are confident in whom we are ridicule doesn’t affect us the same way. We may look at it as an indicator that the person is uncomfortable with themselves, as is usually the case. And we look at what is said to see if there is any validity to it. Maybe we went too far, or misunderstood something. Maybe we are misunderstood. The only way to figure it out is to remain objective, don’t take things personally, even if it is meant that way.
Our children need to know that they have worth. They need to know that it is a gift to be in their presence. And that the presence of others is also a gift. I know, you’re all nervous about your child being too proud and full of themselves. A person becomes prideful to try and convince themselves and the people around them that they have worth. It stems from insecurity, not confidence. True confidence is accompanied by a touch of humility.
To inspire confidence and self-assurance in your child parents need to develop certain skills. The most important skills are listening, and patience. When you are busy listening to your child it is impossible to be judging them. You need to be patient and let them discover the world in their own way.
Listen to your child; you’ll be surprised by how much they can teach you. Their view of the world is different, so they may see angles to things you would never have considered. I believe that children are a bit closer to God. They haven’t yet built up the walls of resistance and fog of uncertainty that comes with pure logic and a formal education. They see things more clearly and can often point out flaws and beauty that we have taught ourselves not to perceive. Listen to the children around you, especially your own.
I mean REALLY listen. It’s surprising how many of us don’t know how to do that. [Could that be because our parents never really listened to us?] So then, what does listening look like? Keep eye contact, if possible. Be attentive. Ask appropriate questions, but do not form an opinion or formulate your questions while they are speaking. If you are thinking of what you are going to say, or form an opinion before they have the opportunity to explain themselves fully, you are not listening. True listening is marked by periods of silence. When you are really listening to one another, you will both need time to process what is said. That means a little bit of quiet. Be comfortable with the silence. In the space between words comes understanding.
Be objective and try to view the issue from their perspective. Feel the emotion behind their words; watch their facial expression, while trying to maintain a neutral expression on your face. Having a neutral look versus a look of disgust, disapproval or judgment of any kind will encourage your child to speak to you with more depth and detail so you can get the whole picture. You need to understand your child’s motivations and the way they see the world if you wish to truly know who your child is.
Practice this neutral expression in a mirror if necessary. Listen to a broadcast you disagree with or feel strongly about and watch the emotion float across your face. Some people have a natural expression of anger, distrust, judgment, etc. For those people it will take more work to develop a look of listening and concern that is stronger than the other reactive expressions.
Be aware of your physical and emotional responses. Your child needs to trust you. If you overreact when they try to confide in you, they learn not to trust you.
Think about your friends. There are probably some friends you avoid certain topics with because they overreact, judge or become too emotional. Maybe they won’t let things go. Think about how uncomfortable that is for you. Now imagine that you have to live with that person. Is that how you want your child to feel?
TIP: If you expect your children to listen to you, you need to listen to them. Listening is a skill. It is something we learn, not something you’re born knowing how to do. Sound simple? It takes practice. Practice listening to your child, your spouse and your friends on a daily basis. It makes an amazing difference in any relationship.
Geralyn St Joseph - Voice of Spirit Gabriel's Trumpet Enterprises
Philadelphia, PA to Bangor, ME
Philadelphia, PA 19148
1st Law of Parenting: Love the Child You Have, Not the One You Wanted www.SpiritualParents.com