What influences how you react to your children?

I think it’s rare to find someone who has no concerns about how they are viewed by others. We are all insecure about something and periodically think about how others perceive us. I see so many mothers who seem to be (probably subconsciously) using their children to affect how others see them. I understand that it’s fun to do our little girls’ hair and dress them in cute clothes, but is a wardrobe from a name brand store (at over $20 per item) really necessary for a 3-year-old? Does one spend hundreds of dollars on cute clothing that will be outgrown in 3 months because it is what their child needs? Or is it because they feel it will say something about them as a parent or a person? Before I became a mom I heard someone once say “how my child chooses to dress does not reflect on me”. I thought this was important because it is saying do not try to influence who your child is as an individual  because YOU are worried about how their choices will make YOU look. Worry about what is best for them, worry about the message you are sending them by disapproving of their outfit choice or their chosing not to brush their hair in the morning. Of course there are certain things that are important to teach our children. It is important to take care of our bodies, our hygiene, our belongings. But battling a four-year-old who doesn’t want to brush the tangles out of her hair before school, is just not necessary and honestly I think it tells them that you disapprove of their appearance just as it is – and that really says you disapprove of THEM, which is detrimental! What girl won’t eventually WANT to brush her hair? This is not something I lose sleep over. Sending the message that appearance is so important at 3 or 4 is just not healthy. It is not something that has even entered their tiny little minds yet. Just because it’s your concern and what you think about in the morning, doesn’t mean it has to be theirs. So with this in mind, I have made a vow to never feel embarrassed by my children; by how they look or how they act.

This goes for behavior as well. Of course we need to teach our kids appropriate behavior and discipline them reasonably. But kids are kids and most behaviors are age-realted. I see many mothers who laugh nervously when their child is throwing a tantrum. This laugh is probably not a way of genuinely expressing how they feel at the moment, but rather it is more for their audience; a way of responding to those who may be watching. Can you imagine how this must make a little, very angry or sad, person feel when their mother is laughing at their distress? This is one of the areas that I am trying to improve on. I am trying to respond ONLY to my child at any given moment, and to do it as if no one is around, because who cares what other people think? The only important thing in that moment is how my child feels and if I’m meeting her needs with how I respond.

This is hard. We, as adults, have it almost ingrained in us to worry about what others think. I haven’t met a person who truly doesn’t care at all. But when it comes to our children, are these fears what is affecting how we act? Or is it the emotional needs of our child that are affecting how we act, regardless of who is looking? Yes, a tantrum at school or in Target is never fun, but wouldn’t it be great to totally disregard your audience, get down on the ground with your crying little girl and give her the biggest hug ever while telling her that you understand it’s hard to not get your way all of the time? Likely, the other parents will look on with admiration. Because who wouldn’t want to be the kind of parent that is ONLY concerned with one thing? I definitely strive to be that parent!

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