Sunday, July 22, 2012

News Flash: Your Kids AREN'T You

The other day I was on Facebook and I happened to catch the status of a friend who also has two boys.  She was commenting on how she wanted to go for a third child (meaning, she wanted a girl), and her husband commented and basically said, fat chance, and she replied, "Well, I have come to realize that I really want a little me."

And I just cringed.

While it's a big joke in my household how Bug is a Mini-Amanda (due to the blue eyes, curly hair, and complete lack of resemblance of his father), I would never, ever presume to think that he was truly a miniature version of myself.  If I had a daughter, I would feel the same way.

Your kids are your kids, but they're people too.  They're people with thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions, and opinions that are completely separate from your own.  This is why when I say things like, "Hey Bug, let's not run in the street because I don't want you to get hit by a car," my son decides that he wants the complete opposite of what I want, and instead throws himself in the middle of the road, and I (total mother of the year) wind up dragging him to safety.

Sometimes I think that a huge problem our society currently has is that we don't treat children like individuals.  We treat them like dogs, a lot of the time--we treat them like they need to be trained instead of listening to their thoughts, opinions, and needs.  And this is a dangerous line to tread, because the way you treat your child now is laying the foundation for your relationship in the future.  So, if you ignore your child's cries, your child will learn to not trust you.  If you ignore what your kid is saying, then your child will stop trying to talk to you--and eventually, will start ignoring what you're saying.

I try (and admittedly, sometimes I fail, but I do try my hardest) to treat my children the way that I would want to be treated.  Which means I don't leave them to cry.  I kiss their boo-boos, I snuggle them, I give them hugs and I tell them every day how much I love them.  When Bug wants to do something that isn't feasible, I give him a short explanation about why we can't do it, and then engage him in another activity.  And I always keep my word.  If he wants to go outside and blow bubbles, and I tell him we can't right now, but we will later, I make sure to do it.  If I ask if he wants to read a story, but he says, "No, color!" then I fix him up with crayons and paper and let him color to his heart's content.  If Cat starts crying, I address it--I don't leave him to get angry and red-faced.  It usually only takes a minute or two to fix his problem--a wet diaper, a snack, or maybe he just needs a cuddle--before he's bright-eyed and giggling again.

Admittedly, I think it would be fun to have a daughter, but if I did, I would find her interests and go with them.  Funnily enough, Bug and I have a lot of the same interests--a love of reading, arts and crafts, and blocks, and going for walks and being outdoors.  In my little boy I have found a great companion for many activities that I find enjoyable, and I make sure to provide ample opportunity to explore the ones he really enjoys.  I have been pleased to find that Cat also loves to sit in Mommy's lap and read stories--but he's a lot more active than Bug was as a baby and he never likes to sit still for too long.  But I know now that as I share my passions with him, he will start sharing the things that he finds fascinating with me.

Loving your kids frequently means accepting them for who they are, and not who you want them to be.  I think if you can get that lesson down now, it'll be a lot easier down the road as they grow.

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