A guest post about parenting by Mary Ann from A Cloth Life
As parents, we want our children to be happy and confident in who they are, well-adjusted and down-to-earth. But sometimes, despite our best intentions, it can be easy to get caught up in appearances. We can be so worried about looking like we’re doing all the right things that we forget about doing the right thing. Yes, encourage your children to do, say, act, be who they are. Just don’t forget the old adage: “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.”
Seeing yourself through your child’s eyes can be empowering. For instance, I love to sing but not for anyone to hear me – except my son, G. I often sang to him when he was a baby because I figured he wouldn’t care. Then one day – surprise! – he clapped for me. He actually loved hearing me sing. Now we sing together. We have dance parties in the kitchen and living room, with his little sister joining the fun. I’ve discovered a wonderful way to connect with my children by allowing myself to let go, let my inner songbird free.
I’ve been blessed to share the same sense of humor with both of my children. (I’ll remind them of this when they’re teenagers.) I feel most comfortable, most myself and at ease, when I am joking around with G. My one year old, N, seems to think we are hilarious, so I’m sure she’ll join in more and more as she gets older. Early on in our marriage, my husband asked me to be a little more serious – basically to grow up and act my age. My kids have given me permission to be myself again without judgement. This has been a blessing and release, a second childhood, of sorts.
It’s hard to not come across as an “expert” in parenting when you’re writing a post about how to parent your child. But I’m not an expert. I’m a stay-at-home-mom-of-two (no shame in that!). I’ve been in abusive relationships, and on bad days, those are the negative voices that dictate my train of thought. I fight very hard to be a good example for my children, but some days are better than others. Sometimes, I am a very poor example. I’m grumpy, short-tempered and self-deprecating – and very possibly running on less than 4 total hours of sleep for the night. On those days, I apologize to my kids a lot, and hug them just as much. Because even when they’re driving me crazy, I still love them. “Even when I’m mad at you, I still love you,” is often heard in our home, from the children and adults alike.
It sounds cliché, but kids are often smarter than adults give them credit for. Children are intuitive. They know when we’re being genuine or false. They also have a natural understanding of the need for balance. I’m not suggesting we blur the lines between being a parent or being a friend, but I believe that showing our children our sincere selves allows them to better connect and feel more secure. It also gives them permission to be their sincere selves. The smallest acts can create the best memories and strengthen our relationships. It’s leading by example.
I show my kids myself at my best and at my worst. I’m goofy and silly with them, sometimes even in public. I apologize when I’ve treated them unfairly. I let them know when my feelings have been hurt. I want them to always know that I will help them and hold them when they’re in need. And when G wants me to wear a Power Rangers mask with him while walking the grocery aisles, I’m happy to oblige.
Honestly, we both think it’s fun, and a dose of fun makes every day a little brighter for all of us.
About Mary Ann: Mary Ann is a babywearing, occasional co-sleeping, mother of two. When the internet cooperates, she blogs at A Cloth Life – writing about everything from her daughter’s hearing impairment, to her latest cloth diaper purchase. She is madly in love with her children and tries to teach them the importance of family, fairness, and not hitting mom with swords.