As a parent, I spend probably way too much time worrying about the lessons I’m passing on to my kids. I think about how I’m teaching them to view food, money, social responsibility, their peers and adults, their own self-worth; the list is endless, really.
I think about what I say to them, about them to others and around them about myself. But from the very beginning, I noticed they pick things up even when I don’t realize I’m being watched, and often those lessons are the most powerful in their minds and for sure the hardest to undo.
There was a facebook meme recently about how the kid “hears and thus learns” that her mom is fat. I know I am purposeful about what I say in front of The Girl, but I wonder if she has overheard me groaning when I try on clothes or staring just a bit too long at my ass in a mirror. I know she’s watched me put on makeup and pluck stray hairs, just as I did my own mom back in the day. I wonder, does she think it’s magical and a wonderful privilege like I did as a young girl who thought her mom was gorgeous, or does she view it as a necessary evil for the heavy-lidded, Mediterranean-haired woman like me? I honestly don’t know. I love makeup. I love using it and playing with it, but admittedly it’s become more of a necessity of late and I wonder if I pass that information on to her without even knowing it. And the tweezing? Well don’t even get me started on that.
The thing I worry about is how much self-value is communicated through these simple acts and my responses to them. Does she see the days where I think I’m getting old and ugly or does she see the days where I’m proud to possess the skills and the means to enhance what I’m actually pretty happy God gave me? I have both kinds of days. I wonder which ones she notices more.
And how about the boys? They don’t see the quite moments between their dad and I when we praise eachother and admit our admiration for the other. They only see the occasional teasing and joking we do around the kitchen when he’s inevitably burning something or I’m not cleaning up to his standards.
Do they see this as the easy-going friendship between two people who love and respect eachother that it is, or do they think that sarcasm and biting humour are the ways to communicate with the one you love? Do they think you should belittle your wife? Do they think men are dopes that women just put up with so they can do dishes? Dear God I hope it’s the first one.If I pass on sarcasm and competitive ribbing as an acceptable way to communicate with the one you love, I will consider myself a failure.
As a parent, I worry so much about what I tell my kids. I worry about how I act in their presence. But, lately I’m questioning more how much they catch when I’m not aware I’m being watched? Because, it’s possible I may always be being watched, and if that’s the case, from a teaching standpoint, I better shape-up.
This post was inspired by the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Mere months before Noa’s execution, her victim’s mother changed her mind about Noa’s sentence and vows to help stay the execution. The reasons why are where the story gets good. Join From Left to Write on July 30 as we discuss The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.