One of the main ways we help our children be strong and confident in who they are, strangely enough is through our consistency. Consistency in what we say, what we do and how we relate to them. When consistency isn’t paramount, life becomes very unpredictable for everyone, especially our children. Consistency builds confidence and through confidence, security which for them is huge. Consistency creates a strong platform for them to stand on, a foundation for them they can trust.
Our children need to know they can trust you and that you are always there for them. In saying that, they also need to know you are confident in yourself as their role model. Being consistent in areas of your life helps build this.
It is said that a double minded person is unstable in all they do. Through my years on this earth, I have definitely come to know that that statement is correct and important to note: children will pick up on this. As parents, we need to put some guidlines in place (for them) but yet maintain the same guidelines in our life. It is the ‘monkey-see monkey-do’ approach to parenting. In the early years, we are the most impacting of role models in their little lives. As our children see us operating with integrity within these guidelines, they too will do the same. However, if they see you slipping, making excusing and constantly changing the guidelines to suit the particular day or situation, they will adopt the same behaviours.
Let your YES be YES and your NO be NO…..
In recent weeks I have had two conversations with wonderful young Mums who are doing a fantastic job raising their beautiful children. Both of these gorgeous girls were asking the same question, “How do I stay firm when I say no, or when asking them to do something they don’t want to do. Sometimes they even tell me they hate me and I find that very hurtful?”
Firstly, let me say that if you have ever heard your child say they hate you…. you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. It happens and if it does try and remember that most parents who are nurturing and loving their children may very well have heard this along the journey. It’s not the end of the world, they don’t mean it so keep smiling. Yes, those three words can hurt and they hurt even more if you don’t understand that it’s just a natural part of parenting and that they are simply learning how to do life and boundaries (remember that article… perhaps a good time go pop back and have a read- click HERE).
It’s in these times that we are granted the perfect opportunities to show your child what unconditional looks like and feels like. This is a time and space where they can learn that you can be trusted and that you will be there for then, no matter what and even when they hurt you. Keep in mind, more than likely, they have heard their friends tell them that they hate them, they have then tried it themselves on another friend and received the desired affect of getting their own way. So, the next logical step – why not try it on Mum and Dad, it might work again.
Through this experience (or one like it) you now have a great opportunity to show them how manipulation (by others or situations) never works and how important it is to rise above circumstance, sitations and even spoken words and stand firm on what you believe.
Let me share a story with you:
I can remember telling my amazing mother that I hated her, in fact, if my memory serves me correctly I YELLED it at her. I had convinced myself that I really did did hate her. My mother was a strong, confident woman who walked beautifully in the confidence of who she was. When this incident happened, my lovely mother let me know it wouldn’t change the outcome for me but it definitely showed me how her love for me didn’t change either. I am very grateful she stood her ground every time, I am convinced that her consistency, her YES being YES and her NO being NO kept me out of harms way on more occassions than one. For letting me see this I am forever grateful and it’s something that came with me, into my own parenting.
On with my story…. During that time of my life, I had a whole “love|hate” perspective on life and my relationship with my mother. I loved how she loved me but hated that she was so wise. I loved that I could count on her strength of character to stick to what she knew was right for me but hated I couldn’t get my own way.
In those moments a child is firmly focused on whatever it is they want or want to do. Nothing else seems to matter, they become one dimensional. In this, they actually don’t have the maturity or the mental capability to look at anything objectively, so they do what they know, which is to lash out.
My children have said the same sort of things to me as young ones and as teenagers. Devastating in the moment… Yes, but the good news is because I responded with consistency and my NO was NO and my YES was YES, they knew I loved and valued them. Now, as adults, they give me nothing but love and value back. As I said, I am forever grateful for my mother and how she maintained consistency throughout my life. What a gift.
As you move in this direction can I encourage you, in and through this to always acknowledge and validate the way they are feeling. As you stand firm, yet validate them, they feel valued. They may not show you or tell you they feel valued but trust me, when they cool down (and they will) if you remain consistent. If you see their rage or frustration continue, perhaps look at your actions and make sure you aren’t saying one thing and doing another the next minute. It can happen! They need to see your integrity in this. It is empowering for them to see that Mum and Dad are people of their word.
The same goes with your Yes, if you say they can do something or have something, make sure you move heaven and earth to make it happen. With this in mind, make sure you THINK before you say YES or NO because if you don’t deliver, trust is broken. Having said that, as they grow older and their level of understanding and reasoning develops the guildlines may shift slightly. Perhaps you have made a strong decision on something concerning them and then realise you made a genuine mistake. In these moments, make sure you humbly explain what has happpened and tell them why you feel it’s more honouring to them for you to change your decision. This is very powerful as they will learn a wonderful lesson of mutual respect and honour as you show them it’s OK to make a mistake and how we can become stronger for it. It’s worth more than gold in your relationship with them. They will find a new confidence in you and in being able to share their mistakes with you knowing you will understand.
In closing, make sure you know why you are saying NO or why you are saying YES and remember there is a tough side to genuine love and if there isn’t can I suggest that the love may be counterfeit.
Be confident your love for them will be victorious and great days are ahead for you and your children.