Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ten Things I Love About You

My kids aren't perfect; in fact, they each have their own set of little weaknesses and annoyances that cause them to stumble at times and be unhappy and drive others crazy. But they are mine, dabnabit, and I just love them so much it's crazy, and so, although I am more than aware of all their flaws, what I want to do most is focus on all that makes them absolutely wonderful.

As a mother, it's so easy to find myself pointing out their inadequacies on a regular basis: "You left your clothes on the bathroom floor"; "You did not get your work done before school this morning"; "You are whining constantly"; "You're bothering your sister" and on and on. If a child is going through a difficult stage, it's especially easy to find negative things to criticize him/her for. But you know what? That negative feedback just isn't helpful. When I'm having a bad day and behaving less-than-appropriately, it does not help if someone points that little fact out; in fact, it seems to usually only make matters worse. And so, a major goal of mine as a mother is to fill my children with positive affirmations about themselves--not just about their physical abilities and talents--but more importantly, about the goodness of their souls.

We live in a world ready to tear us apart if it possibly can. I feel from the deepest corners of my heart that if my children are going to make it through the slush pile, so to speak, they need to know who they are and use those intrinsic strengths to ignore the jabs and demeaning criticism around them and simply forge ahead in the path they feel they should choose. That means I must help them realize their worth, and then realize it again and again and again.

It sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, I haven't found it to be quite that easy. It's something I think about and work on constantly. I don't just want to toss flowers at my children by showering them with flattering words that produce pride and haughtiness; I want to sincerely praise the qualities they each possess that make them who they really are, to help them see what strength of character they can each develop if they dig deep enough within themselves, to help them focus on the kind of people they want to become and to start the journey of becoming that person today through the choices they make. Not so simple anymore.

About a month ago, I was thinking about my children and the different qualities I loved about each one. All of a sudden, I had an idea. I ran to the computer and compiles four lists--one for each of my older children (the ones who can read). Here's what the lists looked like:

They are nothing fancy, as you can see, but they are sincere and they are positive. I taped them on the ceiling right above their beds so that they could read them every night before falling asleep and be reminded of how much their mother loves them. Life requires me to discipline when needed, to follow through with undesirable consequences, to reprimand at times and do plenty of negative stuff more regularly than I would like, making it so vital for my children to have a deep-seeded knowledge of how very much I love them so they know I am disciplining and correcting and training them because I truly want what is best for them, rather than because I don't like them or because I enjoy being a dictator over them. If there is one thing I hope my children can always say, it is that they always knew their mother loved them deeply.

Now, I must admit a few of the points I mentioned on these papers are actually qualities I am hoping they will develop, rather than ones they've actually mastered. It's not fluff, however. It's something I've seen within them at times--just not often enough. And so I'm hoping if they see it, they will begin to believe it and then they will begin to become it. I guess you could say I believe in "self-fulfilling prophecy."

Right now my four oldest children all share one bedroom, the girls on one side and the boys on the other. It makes for quite an interesting motif, I must say. The room is a combination of sports paraphernalia, flowers, dolls, and pictures of temples--each child's favorite one.

Flowers vs. Sports
Hallee's favorite temple--San Diego (her picture is framed and nice--she got it for her 12th birthday)

Nate's, Boston's and Regyn's favorite temples: Draper, Logan, Bountiful (the paper below the temple pictures is a list of Hallee's goals this year)
So, I'm pretty sure this bedroom will never end up in a home decorating magazine, but I still smile every time I walk in (especially if the beds are made) because it is filled with things I hope my children will always remember and it is home to four little people I love like crazy.