Remember when your baby was 5 months old and would wake up fussing in the middle of the night. You would stumble in there grumpy as heck with your tattered pajamas, one eye barely peeking out from your crazy bed head, only to have your baby grin the biggest most admiring smile you have ever seen? It was like her little crib existence was sponge cake and you walked in bringing frosting, candles, and balloons. Her eyes lit up like sparklers as if to say, with enthusiasm and surprise, OMG it’s YOU! YOU ARE THE BEST ONE EVER!
I think our job as parent is to do the same for our kids.
They WORSHIPPED us those first three years (five if you are lucky:). They did not care if we smelled, looked hideous, gained weight, hadn’t brushed our teeth, kept a messy home, wore unstylish clothing, had no friends and an empty bank account. It was unconditional love and it rocked. seriously awesome. This ENAMORED phase doesn’t last because the brain becomes more critical. In one day with an adolescent, you can hear “You aren’t seriously wearing that are you, Mom?” “Why do you laugh so loud? It’s so obnoxious.” “Why are you making that face?” I”m sure you could tell me more comments from your critical teens…post em here.
But how do we love our kids unconditionally, when we, too, have critical minds. How do we communicate to them that “You are a wonderful, beautiful PERFECT creature that makes the world shine with your presence…..but can you please wear deodorant and pick up your dirty socks…..and wash your hands after using the bathroom….… and use nice words……and. and. and.
How do we show them they are perfect in every way, while still noticing LOTS of room for improvement?
The good news is LOVE is very different than perfectionism.
Instead of yelling from the sidelines, “You can’t miss those easy shots!” Talk after about what you loved. “I love how you bounced back from those missed goals & didn’t let it affect you.” “I love how your whole team works so well together.”
Describe cause and effect: “When you speak that way to Grandma, she feels disrespected.” “When you apologize to your friends, it helps them forgive you and trust you again.” “When you shower and wear deodorant, people enjoy being around you more.”
Apologize and forgive. Please, PLEASE do this with your kids. I think our culture (especially politics) could use so much more of this. Apologize to your kids when you make a mistake and take responsibility for your part!
“I know I lost my cool with you this morning and I’m sorry. I got so frustrated because I’m really mad at myself for not being a more organized person. I want to do better with our morning routine and I’m not. I took it out on you and I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?”
“I’m sorry I made that comment about your outfit, that was not kind of me to say. Really, I was embarrassed because I worry about what other people will think about ME when you wear that. I should care more about what YOU think than strangers I don’t even know. Will you please forgive me?”
Forgive yourself. Many of us think that if I just do things RIGHT, I’ll be worthy of love. Without even realizing it, we pass this onto our kids. If I score enough points, get good enough grades, look pretty enough, then I will get love, approval and acceptance. Once we can forgive OURSELVES for having faults and love ourselves anyway, then we give this to our kids without even trying. If you’ve got something you avoid thinking about because you haven’t forgiven yourself for it, set up a free life coaching session and let’s get it done.
Warning: Accepting who you are and forgiving yourself for being a flawed human being may cause embarrassment to your teens. Spontaneous affection, obnoxious laughter, bold outfit wearing and funny faces can result, but when you are filled with that same unconditional love your baby poured on you, you won’t care. Prepare for the eyes to roll and the “OMG Mom, you are so embarrassing.” We get to give back to our kids what they gave to us, even if it’s dorky. “OMG IT’S YOU! YOU ARE THE BEST ONE EVER!”