13 August 2010

One day, we were hanging out in the playroom and I grabbed a pad of paper and some felts and crayons and I drew the picture on the left. The kids watched as I was drawing it and asked some questions about what I was drawing and why. Shortly after I finished, Lily pulled the pad of paper over to herself and carefully picked out the same felts and crayons as I had. Looking back and forth between my paper and hers, she drew the picture on the right. She was very pleased with herself and pointed out to me all the ways that our pictures were the same.

This photo, right here, represents my approach to parenting. I wanted to do something (drawing an abstract picture for the fun of it) so I did it. My kids observed and imitated. There was no lesson, no expectation, no token reward at the end. There was simply the normal imitation of adult behavior in a child who is a social being and the shared pleasure in a moment of closeness.

My kids' eyes and ears follow me throughout our daily lives. No amount of lecturing, praising, cajoling or punishing makes a bigger impact than how I live my life. I make an effort to act in ways that I want to model to my children, whether it's speaking kindly, expressing frustrations, enjoying music or making healthy food choices. Sometimes my words and my actions are not the best and I try to make amends and discuss it with the kids after.

Those moments when I see myself played out in my children fill me with a sense of joy and sometimes with a sense of enormous responsibility. These days, this life, these moments are going to form the images of their childhoods and will serve as a platform from which they build their adult lives. Trying to grasp the enormity of it is inspiring and sobering and I hope that I set the best example that I can.


As an add-on, if anyone is interested in reading more about children being social creatures who are naturally geared towards wanting to please and fit in, the book The Continuum Concept is a good read, and the book Why Love Matters has a lot of solid research backing its ideas about how love and affection are so very important in laying the adult brain's foundation in the early years.


Heather Mackay said...

So true! Even in the worst parenting moments, I think showing kids you can be "real" and express honestly what's going on inside is valuable. :-) Thanks for this lovely reminder, Kim.

Tammy said...

It is so important for kids to get love and affection. I remember stories of orphans in Russia that were fed and clothed, but were not hardly touched, loved or taught. A major part didn't develop and they displayed mental retardation. Imagine that, they were born the same as other little kids, but because of the lack of love and socialization they were at a severe deficit.

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