October 18, 2012

You Have Good Kids

I try very hard to not live through my kids, to want them to be _______ (fill in the blank with a glowing adjective), so that others will think I’m a good mother.

On the days when my life feels out-of-control (most days), I try not to micro-manage my children as a means of helping me feel more in control.

When they walk in the door after school, I try to ask how they are doing, rather than “When are you going to do your homework?”

But mostly I try, really try (but as you’ve likely surmised not always very successfully) to remember:

What about you?

P.S.  You may also enjoy My Parenting Dream or Parenting to Bring Out Our Children’s Best.

  • anil

    It is one of the finest I have ever read. Thanks for those golden words.

  • anil

    Let’s make our love towards our kids UNCONDITIONAL. We need to understand their world.

  • Elvin Turner

    Eye contact while talking, appropriate touch and one-to-one time….apparently if you do these three simple things with your kids they have the greatest chance of becoming emotionally secure teenagers.

    I heard about this in a book that summarised 30 years’ of psychology research into these three powerful actions that speak to kids’ sense of significance and helps them know they are truly valued and loved.

    I find this really helpful on those ‘out-of-control’ days as I can do these things!

    “Loving your kids on purpose” by Danny Silk is another great read in this ilk: http://amzn.to/RHcbeV

  • http://morkels.wordpress.com Anne

    So true, I have to remind myself to have fun with them too rather than to play the role of ‘the bad cop.’

  • http://www.gooddisruptivechange.com Susan Alexander

    This is an important post, Whitney. It raises some issues I’ve been thinking about and talking about with people lately.

    As I indicated in my comment to your recent HBR post on shame, I think we can gain a lot of much-needed clarity when think about what we mean by words we use.

    Two words I see just about everywhere are “success” and “failure.” The word “success” is commonly used in book titles because it sells – it’s what we think we want, especially for our children – but we rarely think about what we mean by it.

    Do we mean high SAT scores, admission to top schools, and jobs thereafter at top firms? Do we mean earning a lot of money? Prestige?

    I’ve learned, in my own experience, that conventional notions of success (see above) make us anxious as parents – and our anxiety transfers our children. They get it. They know. It’s not lost on them.

    The scenario changes dramatically when we want something else for them, namely happiness. Wanting happiness for them (instead of vague notions of “success”) doesn’t mean we start letting our kids neglect their school work and do whatever they want. It does mean, I’ve found, that we stop pushing them in way that’s unreasonable and poorly thought out.

    Wanting happiness for them draws our attention to what’s important, namely, our kids themselves, how they feel, what they think, what’s important to them, what’s troubling them, and the role we can play in those things.

    These ideas are beautifully addressed in Edward Hallowell’s book, The Childhood Roots Of Adult Happiness – which I think is the most useful parenting book of all time.

    Thanks, Whitney.
    Susan

  • Jen

    I took a nice deep breathe after reading this lovely reminder. Thank you.

    I would love to add a corollary: “Don’t let yourself become so concerned with being a good mother that you forget that you already are one.”

    Well needed reminders. Thank you.

    • Whitney Johnson

      I love that. “Don’t let yourself become so concerned with being a good mother that you forget that you already are one.” Thank you Jen!

  • Whitney Johnson

    Anil, Anne, Elvin, Susan and Jen — I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts with me, and with other readers. Elvin, I like how simple this is — eye-to-eye contact, kind, appropriate touch, and one-to-one time. Susan, your reminder about the precision of words. Am I focused on facilitating my children’s happiness? Or is it about me? Many thanks to each of you.

You might also like…

  • GirlLux_FaceofGirlLux

    Melissa Ovard | Why I (Really) Started Girl Lux

  • swimming pool

    The problem when you aren’t in pain

  • rsz_wadofcash

    Mamak Charepoo | Making Music with Money

  • rsz_photo_22(1)

    Alexandra Watkins | Eat My Words