Staying real. With our kids, with our loved ones. Being honest, even when it's really hard - It's so important, and is so key if we want to stay in our hearts - and where better to be if we want to really connect with our children, in our marriages. And every time we take that leap and really take a hard look at ourselves and choose love - well our hearts just get closer, and there is a deeper intimacy all around. Even if it's something as simple as not quite reining in frustration, and letting some words slip out that we regret - we have the option to stop right there, and make it right, reconnect. Because really - it's not about being perfect. It's about growing and learning - and our kids watching that process, and seeing it as a normal part of life. Then they too can find the strength to take a good look at themselves, and see the bits they'd rather not see. Every time we say to them - "Wow - I really lost it there - my words came out sounding really harsh - I wasn't meaning to direct that at you. I'm just feeling really tired and overwhelmed right now. I apologize." and we look them in the eyes, and we let them feel really *feel* our love - well that's the real stuff. So often there is pressure for parents to be "right" - that they are undermining their power and authority to admit they were wrong. I just don't agree with that. Our society needs more people who can admit they have messed up. People who value connection over being right.
There is such a huge focus on the surface of kids - their outer manners, what they can and can't do. SO much pressure, that is rarely age appropriate. More important than any of that is what lies below the surface. *Why* is my child acting out ? What need isn't being met? Do they *feel* loved? We know we love our kids - but that's not enough. So often kids don't feel loved - have lost the connection, in our busy lives that leave so little room for connection. With 5 kids - it can be tricky to maintain a connection with each of my kids, but that is my number one goal, every day. Maybe my kids will swear. Maybe they'll.....pick their nose in public *gasp* or forget to say please once in a while. Heck - they might be downright mouthy at times, but that is the surface, and the more years pass, the more I realize that that is not the part that matters. That surface stuff - it matters, but it matters because it's there to signal us. To let us know that a child needs *connnection* and lots of it, more than anything else.
And really - doesn't it make it all so much simpler? Maintain that connection. And the rest will follow naturally, almost, *almost* effortlessly.