Lessons 5&6 - Messages of Love
"Send a Constant, Continual
Message of LOVE"
You can fake like you care but you can't fake being there. To send messages of love to your children you must show up. Love is not a spectator sport. From here on, if you are not willing to give your children lots of your time, you might as well stop reading! Every technique from this point on will require lots of your time.
There is a fallacy afoot in the world. It is the statement that, "We give quality time to our kids." Baloney! It is impossible to turn on quality time. We adults can't do it with each other and it is even more impossible to do it with our children. There is TIME; period! There is not a person alive who owns the switch for turning on quality time.
Kids spell love T-I-M-E!
Parents must give freely, and lovingly of their time.
Say it: First thing in the morning,
last at night, in the middle or at the end of arguments, on the phone, at unexpected
times. No matter what, you must say the words, "I love you!" If parents do not
say the words, then it is very likely that all other attempts at expressing love will
Write it: Letters, notes/post-its,
cards, posters, baby books, on a mirror, or in a lunch. Writing is magic; it says you
thought about them while you were not with them. It says the same thing today that it says
tomorrow, that it says next year. And when you write, you can say it very carefully and
precisely before it "gets all over the kids". Write it over and over until you
get it just right. One of the most loving things that a parent can do for their children
is to write exactly what they believe about honesty, integrity, compassion, courage,
spirituality, love, family, etc. As an act of love, writing does not have to be
"gushy stuff." Write to them about exactly what you believe.
Make it: Make clothes, doll clothes,
Lessons, cakes, cards, burgers, models, cars, collections. Make things for your kids, and
make things with them. Don't be surprised if some great conversations happen while you are
sharing time making something with one of your kids.
Laugh and play with your
kids! Play cards, The Ungame, Pictionary, Charades, and have water fights, throw water
balloons. Start a tradition of playing a particular game at special times. Let your hair
down and play with your kids... it is a justification to be young forever. Instead of
spending your money on remodeling your house, take the kids water-skiing or camping.
Eyes: At school plays, at games,
while they are playing, let 'em catch you watching. Wink, smile, wince. Video Lesson your
children in the same way you watch them... when the parade comes by, Lesson them adjusting
their underwear in the back row. It says, "no matter what is happening around you, I
am watching you because I love you!"
Stop what you are doing. Let
them say it; let them finish. Ask for explanation or clarification. Remember the six
active listening statements: "Oh!", "Really!", "Wow!",
"Ummm!", "I didn't know you felt like that?", and "Tell me
more!" Resist the natural urge to fill their pauses by interrupting and saying it for
them. Just listen.
A pat on the back, an arm
over shoulder, or a hug can often be the only way that love can be expressed. Use them
all. When kids say, "Don't hug me," they most likely just mean "not now,
not right here in front of my friends!" So, hug them later, but don't stop hugging
Shout down haters:
Talk back to TV,
read editorials aloud and offer caring alternatives to the hateful expressions. We cannot
allow the negative people to win just because they are louder. The big tragedy in all of
the negative stuff on the TV is that it is the only voice in the room. Nobody is
worthless, everybody can serve as a bad example to someone. Sound off about what you
believe and why you believe it to your kids.
Control the emotional meaning of words:
Mom, Dad, home, family, friend, honesty, LOVE. Your actions
will define these and many more words. What are your actions saying? Forever and always
the definition of "MOM" or "DAD" for your children will be what you
were and what you did. Ask yourself, "What is my definition of family?"
Then let your actions define it that way! Your kids won't remember much of what you say
but they will remember forever exactly how you acted!
Teach it: Give them this list! Actively teach them how to be loving to you, to family, to their friends, to their grandparents, to people less fortunate, or to their pets! Continually look for opportunities to model love for your children.
THE TIME THEY MOST NEED TO HEAR THE MESSAGE
IS THE TIME YOU FEEL LEAST ABLE TO SEND IT!
When you are at the point of sending your children out to live in the street, that is probably the time when their heart is most open to receive your message. Be the adult in the situation and express your love at that time. This is not permissiveness. You can still be very strong in your expectations for your kids behavior. You are simply confirming that you love them, unconditionally; regardless of their actions. Fill their hearts with your love at this moment when it is most open to receive it and then it will be so much easier to ask for desired behavior.
Please keep in mind that the purpose of these exercises is to maximize the number of positive and productive ideas that are stored in your mind and the minds of your children. In order to do this you must actually try to structure effective thoughts in your own head as you plan strategies. Then you must observe the resulting behavior in your children. Remember that unless your child chooses to tell you what ideas are in their head, the only way you have of knowing what ideas are stored in their head is by observing their behavior; so pay close attention.
A big part of this process involves not only creating positive change but also observing strategies that did not work and then devising new and better ones that will work. So, as you go through this process do not be the least bit hesitant to list things that didnt work! Sometimes our best teacher is a mistake. The only time a mistake is counted as a failure is if you let it be the last time you try.
Also, when you try something that doesnt work remember the important phrase: "keep the anger out!" Anger rarely results in productive thought processes and effective action.
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Parenting With Dignity™
Sponsored by The Drew Bledsoe Foundation