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The best thing 2020 taught me about parenting

I never expected Motherhood to be hard for me. But sometimes, often even, it is.

I never expected to have days that I not only didn’t enjoy it but just wanted to slink away from it all. But I have. 

I also never expected to become more than I ever knew I could be and find more and more joy in it, in them, but I am. 

 

toddler boy hit his sister and the parenting technique I learned

 

He Gave Her a Shiner

He gave her a black eye. I told him he had shrunk his heart and it would disappear. And then the magic happened… 

 

Sunday- The Hardest Day of the Week 

 

I don’t know why Sundays push our patience. Maybe kids are exhausted from the week and bored. Maybe they are feeling anxious about Monday coming. No matter what the reason, Sundays can often be the opposite of peaceful.

Sunday Grayson got upset at Claire and actually whacked her with a pretend bug catcher net giving her a black eye. I mean he full on marched over to her and whacked her right under her eye leaving a nice little bruise. And you know how that is, a kid goes to school with a black eye and you hope that no one thinks that you did it. 🤦🏻‍♀️

 

I have zero tolerance for anyone physically harming another, and that goes for my kids too. I understand the little kids often fighter kicker pinch or whatever, but because my kids are spread out a little more we haven’t ever had to deal with any physical fighting. I don’t know why, it’s in me to just really detest it, so  I really want to make sure that we handled this well and nipped it in the bud. Let me try to explain even in the smallest way what happened.

 

I Waited to Speak and He Had to Wait as Well

Maybe it’s the year, I’ve been focused with a laser-like focus on being more meek, gentle, and a calming force in my home. 

Maybe it was a blessing from above for seeking those things. 

Most likely it was a teaching opportunity, helping me to feel the goodness of a job well done solidifies far more in a person’s character than later crying in guilt that you handled something wrong. 

I felt an instant calm take over all of me, an actual physical calm. I’ll never be able to explain it to you, but it was real. I felt the influence immediately to not only wait to speak to him but to make him wait to talk to me as well.

My heart and head? You’d expect the immediate Mom response, sending to time out or barking out discipline and disappointment, but there was absolutely none. No anxiety or anger, no frustration in my voice, just a request that he sit with the door shut in the office where I was putting something away.

 

I Didn’t Even Look at Him

I didn’t even look at him, nor did I show any feelings other than quiet peace on my face.

I puttered around a few minutes putting this and that in office drawers and cupboards and all while he bawled and flailed around angry on the floor-something that normally would make my nerves spark up more and more, but not today. I was perfectly in control.

I turned towards him, sat down and waited. 

There he was, cluing in that something was changing and Mom was going to give him attention. I sat very still, my eyes looking down a little, not making any eye contact, letting him observe my countenance and that I was on his level and then I said, “my lap is available if you want to sit in it.”

 

toddler boy hit his sister and the parenting technique I learned

A Mother’s Lap is Safe

He nodded and climbed up rather quickly, my arms slowly and gently wrapping around him. 

And we sat. 

And he cried and was angry still. 

And we sat some more, my breath slowing his with each rise and fall of my chest holding his heavy, shaggy-haired head. 

 

What the Grinch Taught Us Both

I don’t have a clue why but I do know where this came from as it certainly was inspiration straight to my heart. The thought instantly filled my mind to talk about hearts just like in his favorite movie, the Grinch.

Each word not only flowed easily but he responded so quickly, instantly falling into my story and moment.

I asked what the heart is like when someone is mad and he said, “it’s little.” 

“Yes, I believe you’re exactly right, that’s so smart”, I replied. “And what if someone is mean?” and he said, “it shrinks!” 

How interesting that his little mind already was picturing this and it was connecting dots for him.

“Well what if they hurt someone?” I asked.

He wasn’t sure on this one, so I resumed, “Grayson eventually it disappears.”

His eyes said it all, he was crushed.

I told him that no matter what he can always grow it again and he asked, “Well, what do you have to do?”

We talked about apologizing and hugging and he then I could feel it, something wasn’t sitting right in him. He was fidgeting a bit now and I stopped to listen and let him take his time to ask,  “if they don’t do that will they die? Why won’t they die right away if it disappears?”  I explained that eventually those who are always angry and hurt others do die from no heart.

 

Tears of Love and Gentleness Took Over

The tears had changed by now, small, crystal clear tears slowly running over one cheek and then the other.  I touched his chest and said, “Grayson being sad helps it to grow. You’re already doing it, growing it right now because being sad when you have hurt someone is a good thing! It’s good to feel sad sometimes, that sadness means that you care and that you have a good, healthy heart.”

He softened right up into my neck, wrapping his arms up and around me. We talked more about how when we are happy and kind we gain a big heart and that eventually it takes over so that anger cannot shrink it anymore. Oh, if only you could have felt the stillness of the moment. The right feelings were there, and suddenly the pain of a blackened eye had purpose. No, we never want anyone to hurt, but sometimes more can be learned through pain than merely through teaching.

He immediately wanted to talk to Claire even calling out, “Claire can you come sit by me so I can tell you something?”

He asked her if she would forgive him and hugged her so tight my Mom heart could barely take all the growth happening within; I wanted to burst! 

 

Parenting is NOT About Correcting Behaviors

I’m realizing more and more how much our children need to be taught what they are feeling and why and then what to do with it.

Parenting is not about correcting behaviors so they can grow into good adults that make right decisions and act well; parenting is loving them through emotions so they can love others through their’s.

Children need someone to gently mentor them through something they’ve never experienced, LOTS OF FEELINGS! And it honestly can’t happen unless the adults learn to better listen as well. Am I angry and demanding of the kids because I feel empty? Is it because I want them perfect so that everything is in order and controlled? Am I yelling at them because I’m exhausted?

Eventually when both people recognize what they are feeling they can respond in appropriate ways, even if that means just walking away until the anger leaves. 

Heavenly mother and her angels must have influenced me that day. Their work is divine.

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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4 comments

  • I think you handled that episode so well, it is something I can try and learn. So often we speak in anger or frustration, that instead of it diffusing the situation it makes it worse.
    The way you handled it will stay with Grayson forever and it will do more for him than shouting and time out would do.
    You’re an awesome mom xxx

    • Reply
    • Awwwwwww thank you Amanda! I’m just so grateful I knew what to do in the moment. God works miracles through us sometimes!

      • Reply
  • Oh, if only we all had this patience and wisdom to teach each other, not just children. To be able to gently explain how we feel in a way that lets the other person know who we are and why we feel as we do. I would so like to know people in this way. It’s too easy to yell and say mean things when we’re hurt or angry. I am going to strive to do this. Thank you.

    • Reply
    • Such beautiful wise words Deb! Thank you! That’s how I like to know people too! And I believe you are so right…everyone needs to be understood and taught that way, not just children.

      • Reply

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