H is for Heart.
I mentioned this book in the introduction to this series: My Journey Through Parenthood
This book was given to me at Michael’s one year birthday party back in 2009. A single parent at the time and feeling absolutely clueless on how to raise a child who was beginning to exercise his free will, I read this book like it was my parenting bible. Other than the few college classes I had taken on child development, this was the first parenting book I ever read. The basis of what I learned struck deep within my soul. I’m thankful Mr. Sexy owned his own copy of this book. The basis we had in parenting was the same from the get-go.
As parents, what is our role? I believe the basic answer (we could make it complicated if we wanted) is the title of this book. It’s all about their heart. We can punish our kids to no end. We can take away everything that makes them happy and ground them for months at a time. But where does punishment alone leave us? Feeling good will towards one another? Do our kids learn anything positive?
I would like to suggest that punishment alone breeds a resentful, angry child.
While there may be a rare occasion for me and Mr. Sexy to punish our kids, we prefer to do our best at giving them consequences. Along with said consequence(s) should be conversation – when both parties are calm and able to speak without throwing a fit or raising an angry voice. This may take a few days for those really big bad choices. My kids aren’t old enough for those yet, thankfully.
For me, I can look into Michael’s eyes and as I can hear my tone harden and my voice rise, I see a wall building behind his sweet blue eyes. It scares me how well I know those eyes. Those eyes are mine every time I am confronted with even the most menial wrongdoing. But when I soften my tone, lower my voice and even allow silence into the room to settle rising emotions, I can see the walls disappear and I know that I have reached his heart. I found my moment. Love is happening. Consequences are happening. Lessons are being learned.
I don’t have any great examples with me and Marie. I have never been able to get past the vacancy I see in her eyes. I use the term “vacancy” not because she is stupid but because I don’t see any foundation of a relationship there. It’s nonexistent. Vacant. So any efforts made on my part to speak to her heart feel hollow and hurtful. But that’s only my side of things.
Nobody grows up with a perfect childhood. My kids sure won’t. My philosophy is along the lines of: If they are never in therapy because of something Mr. Sexy and I did then we must have done something wrong. However I believe that if Mr. Sexy and I are constantly seeking the hearts of our kids instead of being blinded by their poor choices we won’t lose them and they won’t lose us. Or themselves for that matter.
I know that parenting this way is going to be hard. It’s already very tough. I can barely see past Marie’s eating behaviors. How am I going to handle it when something huge happens like my teen having sex or getting arrested for whatever stupid reason? That will be a challenge….
Any tips? 😉