Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parenting Through the Eyes of Your Child

My son (my 2nd child) is one of those kids who would sleep with all the lights on in his room if he could. Currently, he’s got a clock that lights up, a night light, and glow in the dark sheets. And every night, he still asks me to leave the bathroom light on as well. Last night, as he came out to turn it on and then left the door wide open so it pretty much felt like it was noon, I told him that I felt like I was going to get a sunburn because the lights were so darn bright. And he replied, “It might be bright to you, but it’s not to me!”

And that got me thinking. A lot.

I’m familiar with all the sayings that tell you to look at life “through the eyes of the child,” to try to experience it with their joy and blissful innocence, but I think it’s an important note for parents as well. When he asks me to turn the bathroom light on night in and night out, I think about how I was as a kid, how I was scared of the dark, saw monsters in my curtains, and how I too would always ask for the bathroom light on.

But that’s not all. I remember how upset I got when my mom yelled at me for no reason, probably because she (like me) was either tired, or hormonal, or lonely or all of the above. I remember the little things that my parents did, like the impromptu celebrations for absolutely nothing and the cool shoes I had wanted that I found under the Christmas tree one year.

And I try to keep that in my head when I parent. Just enough to not make me feel guilty, but a little prod. A hot poker sometimes, that reminds me of what’s really important when all is said and done. When they grow older, like me, and have kids of their own. What exactly will they remember?

When I think about it that way, the light on (energy saving one, mind you) in the bathroom doesn’t matter. Either does that bill that can be paid after they’re asleep and not when they’re begging me to play with them.

Sometimes it’s the difference between barking at them to clean up the styrofoam peanuts that my sister-in-law insists on packing everything in or letting them romp in them as they screech for joy.

What bogs me down as an adult and parent doesn’t necessarily need to be their burden. And when drop down to my knees and look into their eyes, I’m transported back to when I was their age. And I think that makes me a better, more empathic parent.

- from the blog 4 Kids or More

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