Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I respond to my children. This is true when they wake up in the morning, when they get home from school, when they ask me to do something, or need help with something. I think the way I react really makes a huge long term impact and I didn’t even realize what I was doing.
My gut reaction is often to overreact or start addressing the task at hand. For example, when they get home from school it’s easy to start by saying, “Start doing your homework.” Yes, I definitely want them to do their homework, but I’d hate if the way I was greeted when I got home was homework. A much nicer greeting would be to ask about how their day went. Of course, I’m unlikely to get long greetings to start, but I think with patience they’ll likely start expecting this and be ready to recount their day when they get home from school.
This really came to light the other night when putting my kids to bed. It took a couple times for this to sink in, but I finally think I got the message. While as a parent I often want the kids to get in bed so I can get to the things that I want to do in peace, I’ve been doing what I can to spend more time talking with my kids at night. Sometimes that includes climbing into bed alongside them so they know I’m there to talk and I’m not going to be running out the door as fast as I can.
After doing this a few times along with what’s possibly a bad habit of giving some short backrubs while we talk at night, I decided not to do it one night because the kids had acted poorly. Crash Kid #1 said in one of the most sincere voices I’ve ever heard him use, “But I like when we talk at night.”
Kind of makes my heart break thinking about it. I like talking with him too, but sometimes at night I’m tired and not that interested in talking about minecraft or modern architecture design. It’s a seriously tough balance. However, it’s amazing how big of a difference a little thing like 5 minutes of chatting at night can make in my relationship with my children.
Going back to the small ways I react to my children, I could do a lot more in the little things to better help my children. Often that means I need to take a step back and not react to their actions or questions and instead I need to take a second to think about the right way I should respond. That’s not an easy thing to do, but the more I think about it the more I realize it’s one of the most important things I can do.