Friday, May 16, 2014

How to talk so your kids listen

Life is Good: thanks be to God!


Grant and I have found ourselves giggling through our dinner prayers lately. Luckily, I think God has a sense of humor. See, we have each child say a short prayer before one of us says grace before we eat. A few weeks ago, after it became apparent that the big kid was reciting the same "Thank you, God for this food. Thank you, God for this family." prayer over and over, I asked the children to say a prayer and "speak from your heart".  This proved to be the right words for the moment. The big kid was grateful for something that happened that day and a few other things "from his heart". I was relieved. I don't want my children just to repeat rituals. I want them to grow a relationship with God. And I think much of this comes from prayer, which I refer to as "talking to God". It doesn't have to be formal or articulate or perfect. Just an on-going conversation with Him, our Great Creator. The One who made us and loves us beyond words.

So what's funny about that? Nothing. However, the giggles started when the little one prayed. "Dear Lord, thank you for daddy going to work. And brother going to school. And for mommy and me here at home together. Amen." Grant and I both raised our heads, opened our eyes and smirked at each other. Yes, thank you that daddy went to work and left mommy and the little one at home together. Yes, thank you that daddy and big brother went away today. It was hard not to bust out laughing. I know he didn't mean it the way it sounded, but it sounded like the little one was so glad to be rid of daddy and brother for the day!

In actuality, he was showing gratitude for daddy's job, that big brother has a wonderful school with kind, skilled teachers, and that mommy's career is flexible enough that mama and the little one can spend most of their days together. He was, in fact, repeating what he had heard often--Grant's and my prayers of thanksgiving that God has made this all possible for us.

And so, he repeats this "prayer from your heart" quite often now and we continue to giggle just a little. He'll learn to articulate things some day soon enough.

If you ever want to know what words you use too much or just how you speak in general, listen to your kids. They are little sponges with playback recording devices. They are our mirrors. If you don't like how your kid is acting, adjust your attitude and see what happens. We were playing with various Schleich animals, Playmobil people, baseball guys, and aliens the other day and Grant asked the little one the names of his "family". Daddy was "Grant" and mama was "Honey". One of them fell out of the car they were driving and the other asked, "Are you okay? I kiss it where it hurts?" The answer was, "Why yes, please! Thank you! I lub you." We grinned at each other. And then sighed with relief. Phew! If your kid is going to imitate you there are worse things than being called "honey" and showing love and care! Along with his "prayer from the heart", this was also a good reminder that we are the example. These kiddos are listening and watching and then taking what they learn out into the world. Think about that a little while and it will make you feel like kind of a big deal. I mean, really. We parents are shaping the world, one little person at a time. Want to create world peace? It starts between you and me. In our home. With our children. Who will then go out into the world and share your messages with others. Oh, the pressure. Do your shoulders feel heavy? The good news is that you are only responsible for yourself and your family. And the actions and events of today. You can worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.

My little mirror is starting to wake up from his nap. I think I'll go up and give him a good example of love and happiness. I hope you get a good dose of the same today, too!

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