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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Working Toward Functionality: The Impact We Have on Our Children

Before I switched blog addresses, I had a bit of a thing going with this talk.  It's one of the optional reading assignments for the personal finance class I'm taking.  I thought the messages in it were so important that I'd share it here.  For the past posts I've written on it, you can go here.  I'm at point #4: "Parents are very aware of the impact they have on their children."

James MacArthur shares that children are like human blackboards and that we, as their parents, are continually writing on those blackboards--intentionally and unintentionally.  Intentional is obvious--the words and actions we choose, either positive or negative, to share with our kids.  Unintentional is "things like ignoring, impatience, or no time for a child;" although, I would like to add that unintentional messages can also be positive.  I think it's these kinds of messages that truly express how we feel in our hearts about our children.  When speaking to others about our children, do we tell our friends what rotten thing that child did that morning, or do we say positive, kind, endearing things about them? 

I guess when it comes right down to it, it kind of goes along with what my children term "Mom 1:1"--"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

MacArthur also states, "Don't get too paranoid about all this as if you have to watch every word or deed with your children.  You don't need to be that wary but you do need to watch for PATTERNS.  To be too busy once in awhile or too impatient occasionally is unlikely to inscribe a negative message on your child's blackboard but a regular pattern of being too busy or too impatient could."

He encourages us to write conscious messages through spending time with our children, or if we leave early in the morning and don't get a chance to interact then, write a note for the child with words of love and encouragement.  MacArthur also says, "If you consciously take time to play games with a child--what might you be writing on their blackboard?  'You are fun.  You are worth it.'  Good messages for a blackboard to receive!"

Timing is sometimes very funny.  I was just chatting with one of my older children as we took a car ride, just the two of us, the other day.  This particular child gets very frustrated with the younger siblings.  Sometimes they act a bit immature, and let's face it, obnoxious.  These things make this older kid CRAZY.  I found that out from following MacArthur's third point.  Yes, I've been sitting down and having regular one-on-one time with my kids getting to know their hearts a bit better.

As we discussed these feelings about the younger kids, I encouraged this older child to use positive words toward them--to look for the good no matter what because even if there's bad, there's ALWAYS something good.  My mother-by-marriage used to say, "Even if you just have to say, 'Wow!  You're breathing really good today....Keep it up!'"

This older child said, "Yah, but [one child] is the laziest person I know.  It makes me CRAZY."  I said, "Maybe so, but let me tell you how I'm dealing with that right now.  All weekend, I've been telling [that child] how much I love what a hard worker [he/she] is.  Whenever I catch [him/her] doing something without complaining, I make sure to make a point of it."

Confession:  I'm not always good at this, but I'm working on it.

So, here's the funny thing on timing, and I wish I could take a picture of this so you could see it, but my camera's on the fritz, and Santa's been alerted....

Yesterday, that "lazy" child came home from school.  (S)he brings papers home from school frequently that look like a writing outline with triangles and boxes on them.  When I checked homework yesterday, here was the beginning of that writing outline in the child's handwriting:  "I'm proud of working the most with no crying or moaning."

Wow!  Did I write on his/her blackboard or what?!  What a great reminder to me that what I say means more to my kids than nearly anything else they experience during their day.  I'm magical.  Sometimes I forget that, and just to think that I thought my magic faded when my kisses stopped making boo-boos feel better.  So glad to know it continues.  Excuse me while I get my cape out of the dryer--had to wash the baby puke out of it.

MacArthur's last words in this section are also very necessary:  "...a burned out and resentful parent is no good to a family."  There we have it.  Take time to write on your child's blackboard intentionally but make sure we're taking care of ourselves at the same time.

For Thanksgiving, we got to open a Christmas gift early.  This is very unusual and not part of our family tradition, but one of the things we received was a $100 gift card.  The Warden told me to use it for Christmas shopping, but I told him I'd rather spend it with him, so we're looking forward to having a little get-away very soon.

Never forget that you're MAGICAL!


Nikki said...

This is just what I needed today. How did you know? You're worked your magic with me too. :)

Deanna said...

Nikki beat me to it ~ Exactly what I needed hear. Yes, you are magical :)

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