What three words can undo your child’s fond memories of summer? What eleven words can seriously damage your relationship with your child?
Imagine this scenario: You and your children are at the beach, or the park, or the market. School starts in a few days. A fellow mom says, “Aren’t you counting down the days?” Without thinking and maybe with an exaggerated eye-roll you answer, “I can’t wait.” Or worse, you say, “I’d go crazy if I had them home for another week!”
What message have you just given your children? The message that having them around is a burden. The message that they go to school, not for their own benefit, but for yours.
I was speaking to a long-time pre-school teacher over the weekend and I asked her what she sees as the biggest difference in her students’ parents from twenty years ago to today. One of her answers was that many of today’s parents are at a loss when they have to spend time with their children. Some of them actually seem afraid of that scenario. They are comfortable driving their children from one activity to the next and they can plunk their kids in front of screens to entertain them, but they are unsure of themselves when it comes to simply being together.
How we talk affects how we act. I don’t know one woman who wouldn’t cringe if her husband referred to her as his “ball and chain.” Yet, that language was actually once pretty widely used in banter. It didn’t serve to make men adore and admire their wives or make wives feel appreciated. It is good that it is no longer socially acceptable to speak like that. Let’s make an effort to hear how we talk about our children and insure that they—and we—know that if we send them to school it is for their benefit and that we sacrifice our time with them for that reason alone.