As parents, we can choose from a smorgasbord of options for books on parenting subjects. Discipline, sleep training, baby 101, etc. The list goes on and on. That’s all well and good, but as we guide our little ones through life, certain personal values we want to impart spring up. I would love to share my current top three values for guiding my almost 5 and 3 year olds through this world with all of you, and hopefully you will share yours with me!
As parents, we get to choose what values we instill into our children. It is a glorious honor, but also a serious responsibility.
Giving quality hugs
I cringe at hugs where people pat your back awkwardly while you hug them. Other hugging offenses also include standing at arms length so your torsos don’t touch, or rushed stiff embraces. I understand that not everyone is touchy feely, but in my family, we are. My husband is not a big hugger, but I have sort of forced him to become one. He is SO affectionate with our kids, however, which is wonderful. I LOVE hugs, and now so do my children. I never force them to hug anyone they don’t want to, but they usually give hugs willingly and with love and abandon. Giving a solid, warm embrace is a life skill worth learning. When someone needs a big hug, and you are available to give one, I cannot think of a better gift to give. Therefore, its high up on the list of values for guiding my kids. With an embrace, I am letting them know with my presence that I am here and a safe haven for them. The safer they feel, the more adjusted they will be in this world. What a beautiful value to instill.
How to apologize with sincerity
For me, this is a big one. MANY grown up people out there are not capable of giving sincere apologies. You know some of these people. For now, I am aware that when I tell my kids to apologize when they have done something wrong, seldom do they MEAN the apology. It is just a nicety, a formality, like saying please and thank you. However, to SHOW them what an apology really looks like, I apologize to them when I have wronged them. When I have broken little promises, shouted at them, been grumpy, etc. those are prime times for a sincere apology. The other morning, for example, I hadn’t had my coffee yet and my 4 year old son was sitting up on the counter. He knocked over my full cup of coffee and it spilled everywhere (no one was burned, luckily). I lost my patience and used sharp tone with him. As I cleaned up and calmed down, I said in a kind, level voice, “Noah, I’m so sorry I got grumpy with you. I know you didn’t mean to spill my coffee. Do you forgive ME?” His response floored me. “Mom, I am sorry, too. I’m sorry I spilled your coffee. Do you forgive ME?” He was so incredibly sincere with his words, not forced and so sweet, tears sprung to my eyes. These kids watch EVERYTHING we do. It’s one thing to force them to say sorry, but a true apology comes from the heart. Only by demonstrating sincere apologies will they learn that asking forgiveness is not a weakness, but a marvelous strength.
Being comfortable with their UNcomfortable feelings
I am sensitive, and really in tune with emotions. Therefore, I have made it my duty to allow my kids to HAVE their feelings. We all experience jealousy, boredom, anger, sadness, fear. However, learning how to process them is the tricky part. When my kids are acting out, I get on their level and “check in”. What is going on with them? Ask with no attitude. “You are acting a little wonky. What’s up, buddy?” Learning how to identify their emotions and relate them to me has been a game changer for all of us. “Mom, I am feeling JEALOUS because you are talking to _____ , and I wanted you to play with me.” WOW, now we can fix this, because I KNOW whats wrong! All this said, I’m not implying that I am a slave to their emotions. The contrary, actually. Emotions themselves don’t justify bad behavior. However, when you simply IDENTIFY the behavior, it is SO powerful. You can then find ways to satiate the hard feelings. Identify the behavior, acknowledge that it’s normal and ok, and then help them find ways to cope. “Yes, you can be mad at your sister for taking that toy. I would be MAD, too! However, hitting is wrong. Let’s talk about ways to fix this.”
Normally, before you delve into the discussion, situations involving heightened emotion require checking in and providing reassurance first. Why? Because kids can’t hear you when they are freaking out or melting down. In general, kids are very sensitive, emotional, spirited, and have big scary feelings. In my long days of parenting, these coping mechanisms have proven priceless.
Let me hear your personal parenting values!
What have been some super important values that you want your kids to absorb? Talking parenting and learning from other moms is my favorite way to get new ideas, so I am eager to hear yours! It takes a village, and I love this village.