Friday, July 11, 2014

everyday miracles: the power of a mother's words

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As a writer, I have always known the power of words. But it wasn't until I became a mother that I truly understood the ability of words to transform lives.

Because children listen to their mothers.

Often it doesn't seem like it. When you are a mom, you say a lot of things on any given day. Sometimes you have to say things over and over and over again before anything happens. It seems futile. You wonder if they are even hearing you.

Take, for example, asking your child to complete a chore. It usually starts as a request:

"Honey, please don't forget to put your cereal bowl in the dishwasher."

Then there's the gentle reminder:

"Um, sweetie, you left your bowl on the table again...."

Followed by the passive/aggressive reminder:

"Hello, where are you going? I'm pretty sure I asked you to put your bowl in the dishwasher."

Soon it becomes a clipped, tense mantra:

"You. Table. Bowl. Pick it up pick it up pick it up Pick It Up!"

Followed closely by yelling and The Look:

At which point they're all like, "Sheesh Mom, you don't have to yell - I heard you the first time."

Ah, so I went and had this stress-induced stroke for nothing? Silly me.

I know, kids get distracted and forgetful. They need to be reminded of things. They aren't perfect.

And yes, they should listen to us and follow basic rules. But in their defense, we moms often set them up with our weak communication skills.

There are three rules we moms should always follow if we want out children to listen to us:

1. Say what we mean.

2. Mean what we say.

3. Say something worth listening to.

That doesn't equate being inflexible or harsh. We don't need to be drill sergeants. But namby-pamby communication is useless. And ultimately harmful. The things we say and the ways we say them make an impact. Good and bad.

Our kids know when we're going through the motions. They know when we lack confidence and conviction. They know when we're pushovers and they will accept our tacit invitation to steamroll us.

But surprisingly enough, they don't want this. It makes them feel insecure. Moms are the ultimate defense. If we crumble so easily, who is going to have their backs when the world gets mean and cold?

What do they really want? They want someone who will make them listen. They want to trust us. They want to respect us. They want to rely on us. They want us to share our convictions with consistency and resolve. They want boundaries to test and boundaries to keep them safe. They want us to hold their feet to the fire even - maybe especially - when they complain. And they want us to deliver all of this with love, kindness, openness, and a healthy dose of humor.

It's a big order. But if we give them all of this, they will do more than listen. They will communicate honestly with us. Maybe not always, but mostly. They will share their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows. Because they will think we are capable of moving mountains on their behalf.

And you know what? They will be right. Because teaching a child simultaneously how to be grounded and how to soar is nothing short of a miracle.

Recently I was able to share one of my "everyday miracle" stories with two audiences as part of Listen To Your Mother Charleston. The story involves my daughter and her confidence in me, in my beliefs, and in the power of my words. It changed my perspective on the power of words forever. I hope it will encourage you, too.

1 comment :

  1. Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. See the link below for more info.



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