Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” (NIV)
It is my responsibility as a mother to tell my children many things. Some of those things include what chores they need to do, reminding them more often than I should the best time to do those chores, as well as instructing them on the proper way to complete said chores. It is also my responsibility to buy nutritious food for them to eat, prepare healthy meals with a few snacks thrown in to keep life interesting, and clean clothes for them to wear. In addition to providing for their physical needs, it is my responsibility as a parent to teach my children basic values, life lessons, and common courtesies so that they will grow into responsible adults who contribute to society, not detract from.
One thing I fail to remember too often is that part of my job description does not include telling my children how they feel. It has to be quite frustrating “to feel one thing and have someone you love and trust keep telling you the opposite” (Maggie at Just Say NO to Mommy Brain!).
I know that I certainly do not appreciate being told by anyone how I am supposed to feel, especially when I am upset. When I have had a bad day, I usually just want to vent my frustration, cry a little, or forget about it. I do not want to hear that what I am feeling is not really what I am feeling. Sadly, that is exactly what I end up doing to the ones I love more than I should.
I got a firsthand glimpse of this when my two-year-old fell down. After quickly assessing the situation to realize he did not get any serious injuries, I responded by clapping and cheering, thinking that by making light of the situation I was helping him grow up not to expect emergency room treatment every time he gets a scrape. His, “No, Mama, no yeah!” told me exactly how he was feeling. He did not want the cut and dry version of assessing his injuries (or lack thereof). He wanted to be heard.
It only gets worse when the pain becomes emotional. Hurt feelings from friends at school, being excluded from an activity no matter if intentional or accidental, and feeling out of sorts because everything that could be counted on in life is now different are just a few of the ups and downs that our children have to encounter while growing up.
Just as when I am facing difficult situations in my life and need to be heard, my kids need and deserve, even more of that consideration from me. I feel honored that I have the kind of relationship with my children that they want to share their feelings, fears, thoughts, and emotions with me. I need to remember that those feelings, fears, emotions, and thoughts are precious and need protection. I will have plenty of time another day to teach life lessons and instill character-building traits – but right now, I need to remember that having them feel heard is much more valuable than making them listen.