Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Q & A -- relationships

How do you ensure that your kids like YOU? I am feeling so bad because my kids told me that I'm a grouchy mom and they don't like me. (they are 6 and 4). Seriously broke my heart especially because I'm doing my best! 

That's a great question.  We all want our kids to like us, right?  But sometimes I think that translates to catering too much to their needs and spoiling them.  Kids need structure.  They need parents to set boundaries.  They need natural consequences when they make bad choices.  I believe it makes them feel safe and loved, even if they don't like those darn consequences.  

I think that sometimes, in wanting our kids to "like" us, we think have to forego those things when really that's what helps build relationships.

But aside from that, I have two things to say:

1)  Find time to really BE with your kids and focus on them.  Whether it's taking them on an individual date or using drive time to turn off all electronics and just BE.  Yes, TURN IT ALL OFF.  Technology hinders relationships.  A lot.  I have an epiphany every now and then when I'm sitting on my computer or on my phone and realize I have a child sitting next to me.  What in the world could be more important than being with that child right then?  So I turn everything off it clears up my mind.  Then I can really reach into their hearts with questions or a sincere hug.  There are so many things to find out about kids.  Those 6 and 4 year-olds have so much they want to share but don't know how to get it out sometimes.  

Letting your mind quiet down opens your heart.  And that's the best gift we can give our kids.  I have to re-learn that every single day, so don't go thinking I'm an expert.  I just know it changes my whole perspective and my whole happiness when I don't let dumb little things get in the way of those relationships.

2)  Take what 4 and 6 year-olds say with a grain of salt.  Heck, take what teenagers say with a grain of salt for that matter!  They are just trying to get a reaction without even realizing what they are doing.  You just need to be a "durable object" (HERE) and practice the "love and logic" method where if someone says "I don't like you!  You're grouchy!" you say, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that you think that way," and move on.  

No emotion.  

If they realize they won't get a rise out of you by telling you things like they don't like you then they'll stop.  I promise.  

Of course they love you, you're their mother.  Kids just get confused sometimes.  

Make them take a hugging picture with you and they'll laugh and remember, "oh yeah, I like that lady."  Ha!

Oh and one more thing.  Have fun.  

Life doesn't always have to be so serious.  Sometimes I'm guilty of forgetting that along with all the other important stuff I'm saying here.  

About teachers...My child was assigned a teacher for next year that I'm not hearing the best things about. Would you ask to have your kid switched, or just make the best of the situation? 

I think this is all about relationships too.  Making relationships with the principal and the current-year-teacher helps a ton.  You and the principal are partners in your child's' education.  If you are really worried I would definitely talk to him/her and voice your concerns.  When my kids are in elementary school I do put up a pretty good fight to get them in with the teachers I know and love.  They are with that teacher at school practically longer than they're home, so I think it's a big deal.  When they get to junior high and high school though I don't worry as much.  I figure the classes are shorter and it's a good way to help teach them to deal with different personalities.  That's life.  I will contact the teacher if something is out of line, but that is pretty rare.   

More about teachers back in THIS Q & A post.

I am so inspired by the wonderful relationships you have with yours and Dave's extended families. I would love to know some of the things you do to nourish those relationships and stay close. I am guessing you have a lot of nieces and nephews, do you do something special to remember their birthdays or give presents at Christmas time? As my number of nieces and nephews continues to grow and we're spread all across the country I worry about our relationships as a family weakening. I would love some ideas of how to maintain those relationships. Thanks so much for all you share with your blog! 

Growing up I had an uncle who sent us all (all his nieces and nephews) a birthday card with $5 inside.  

Every year.

Boy oh boy did it ever mean a lot to me that he would take time out to do that.  Getting that card in the mail each year, money or no money, was such a gift because it meant that he remembered me.  

I always had a plan that I would do that same thing, but with cool $2 bills.  remember those?  But somehow that plan got lost in life.  Luckily for us we get to be in Bear Lake each summer with all those nieces and nephews.  We are spread out living all over creation so to have that precious time together each year is a big deal.  (See what we do for family reunions back HERE and HERE and HERE...cannot wait for a couple weeks from now when we get to do it again.)  We get to really hang with each other as well as the nieces and nephews there and it does wonders for relationships.  I thank my lucky stars every single year that my parents had the vision to make that work for us.  

Dave's family does all that they can to get together as well.  Six of the nine kids live in the desert and we get together when we can (I wish it was more often).  I adore all of Dave's siblings, but I have a special place in my heart for one of his little sisters who doesn't live close but prioritizes getting her family with six kids here to the desert each year.  Even in periods where they are really strapped financially they save up and drive all the way down to us.  And they create a party when they get here.  We just had one at the beginning of June that started out like this:

I love looking in from the back yard and seeing this sight:

And turned into Dave's parent's 50th wedding anniversary.  (More on that soon.)

As far as Christmas goes, in both families we rotate which family we give gifts to each year.  I try to think of the kids when we give those gifts and give something that will mean a lot to them.  There are too many to give gifts to everyone!

I also think something as small as a phone call is a big huge deal.  Talking voice to voice, not a text or email.  

I need to make more phone calls and spill out my love more.

More about relationships back in THIS Q & A.


  1. IT IS DIFFICULT to keep up with a big family like that, mine is big as well and it's complicated. I barely get to see my cousins once a year, some of them more but never enough! you're right about the phone calls, sometimes it's more valuable than the best of Christmas gifts!

  2. "Letting your mind quiet down opens your heart. And that's the best gift we can give our kids"

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today after a few trying days. Thank you, thank you for your insight!

  3. The first question on this post struck a real chord with me, because 10 years ago I was a grumpy Mum with a 4 yo and a (nearly) 6 yo. Now of course your circumstances may be very different from mine, I may be completely misunderstanding and your kids are momentarily narked with you because you've told them to tidy their rooms. But - I thought I would give my thoughts from my experience anyway :-)

    We're all human and if we're overwhelmed with all our adult responsibilities (as I was 10 years ago) we're going to be grumpy. Fortunately for me, I live in the UK where grumpiness is perfectly acceptable so my kids never thought to mention it. It also strikes me that honestly showing that you are down helps your kids to see that it's fine for them to feel down from time to time; human beings aren't made to be permahappy after all.

    BUT it is also a warning sign that you are under stress or frustrated; and a reminder to see if there's a cure for what ails you. If there isn't a realistic solution be very kind to yourself to get yourself through, and Shawni makes some great suggestions for how you can put aside some special time with your family as a demonstration of your love for them.

    There's a lovely English book which you can buy in America, called The Idle Parent by Tom Hopkinson, which deals with this. It's gloriously impractical, muddleheaded and contradictory, and quite possibly very countercultural for Americans, but there are some gems in there and I love the overall message. Most kids are programmed to grow up absolutely fine. More effort from Mum and Dad won't lead to better results, and may actually cause problems. So just enjoy your kids, look after your own sanity, and chances are that things will turn out just fine.

    1. Us in the UK know how to be grumpy & have a good moan don't we:).

      I don't mean you personally, I just mean as us Brits as a nation.

  4. I have another question about relationships... I have a 2 and 3 year old. Sometimes they get frustrated with each other and push/pinch/pull hair/bite/call names/hit. You've mentioned the fighting bench that your family uses, and it sounds like a great idea. When your kids had to sit on the bench together, would you have to sit right with them to make sure they weren't hurting each other and to make sure they stayed there? I'm just worried if I start something like that they will fight while on the bench or run away from it? How do you get them to just sit there and actually make up with each other?


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