Sometimes I'm an Awesome Parent and Horrible Adult
I’ve seen a lot of quotes lately reminding parents to infuse their kids with confidence to take on the world, and to make sure kids know how valued they are. That’s obviously great, but I have to admit--I’d love to have a sweet adult doing that to me every day too, wouldn’t you?
The latest quote I read is lovely:
"Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” –Brooke Hampton
How often do we have this mindset when speaking to our spouse, friends, coworkers or just other adults in general?
Most likely never because we think cheerleading encouragement should be focused towards children who need that sort of soul nourishment since we’re equipping them for the road ahead of adulthood.
I don’t know about you, but give me some of that sweet soul nourishment amongst paying bills, lack of sleep and racing around to make ends meet any day of the week, please.
Filling children with confidence and praising them for being exactly who they are as well as showing them patience for their flaws should be something we extend to fumbling adults too, right?
Think about how you might go through your day with more solid convictions if every night a warm, loving person took the time to look into your eyes and tell you she thanks God for you, you’re a good person and you can do anything in life, all while giving you a smooch on your cheek and making sure the blankets are snug all around you.
Holy cow, bring that sweetness on! Why is there an age limit for that? How would your day today look different if you had this sort of daily pep talk with someone who loves you, reminding you you are capable of great things just by being you, you’re endlessly talented, and that someone believes in you?
Chances are you’d be tackling your day with super confidence and swagger instead of chugging coffee and wondering how you’re going to do it.
We’re setting our kids up to be really awesome adults, but why is the system wired to end there? Why can’t uplifting confidence and encouragement be something we carry over to each other as adults as well?
We encourage children to let their opinions out and to explain themselves. We get down on our knees to purposely look them in the eye and listen intently with our eyebrows raised and an engaged smile on our lips, careful not to interrupt to show our undivided attention.
Of course, we should love on our kids and lift them up, but think about how much better marriages and friendships or just even interactions in life in general would be if we had this glitter in our eye for fellow adults like we do towards children.
I’m divorced from my kids’ dad, but looking back I can tell you all our warm and fuzzy energy was directed towards the kids. All the flowery praise, smiles and encouragement was showered upon them while all the resentment, sarcasm and frustration was reserved for each other. I suspect that’s the case with most parents.
Parents are constantly in give mode to our children not just physically but emotionally. We give them our best selves, lifting them up to mold them into the best human beings they can be, but who is lifting us up?
The more we lift them up, the more we tend to disappear and put ourselves on a shelf, and that turns us into grumpy adults who pick at each other.
We neglect to remember that we need some encouragement to keep us going too.
Yes, let’s be amazing to our kids. Let’s listen intently when they talk about their hopes and dreams, but let’s also be amazing to our spouses, coworkers and people who aren’t as easy to like.
How do we start a wave of sweetness towards adults without inappropriately tucking strangers in to bed at night and kissing their cheek? (although I’m such a nut I sort of think that would make the world a better place, but I digress…)
I like to take my time with strangers like looking in the grocery store clerk’s eye and asking her if she’s having a good shift, stopping to speak to a homeless person and hearing his story, or listening to the Mormons in our neighborhood tell me about their church every. Single. Time. I. Walk. Past. Them. Outside.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m hardwired to be an impatient turd. It takes patience and constant inner-scoldings from myself to slow down and see people and remember each adult is just a transportation shell for their inner child.
It’s a shift in mindset to tolerating people to really metaphorically bending down like we do with our kids and absorbing their words and telling them they matter. I want to do more of this, don't you?
Even after childhood is long gone in the rearview mirror, and you’ve got your big girl pants on and juggling it all, wouldn’t it be nice for someone to tell you you’re amazing and they believe in you because what you believe is what you will become?
I say bring it on, and please tuck me in extra snug.