I wish I could say that most of what I’m teaching my kids (ages two, three and five), I learned throughout my own childhood, and through my parents. But the truth is I didn’t and I’m okay with that now. I understand that most people only do what they are taught. You know the saying, “do as I say, not as I do”? Well whoever coined that saying obviously wasn’t aware that “actions speak louder than words”. And looking back at how my parents raised me, I can honestly say that a lot of my mannerisms were not things I was necessarily told to do, but things I observed my parents and elders doing. Since I don’t want my kids to have trouble expressing themselves or exuding confidence in themselves, I am doing everything I can (with the help of my hubby of course) to teach them a few things that I had to learn on my own.
1. Saying, “I’m sorry”
This is not only teaching my children to say these words, but also showing them that mommy and daddy also say these words. When you are constantly telling someone to do something that you don’t do yourself, chances are, they’ll stop listening. So not hearing these words growing up, or not hearing my elders say it to each other, only made me not want to say it. I always felt that it had such negative connotation, when in actuality, its humbling and just a part of life. So I teach my kids the importance of these words because one day they’ll have to understand the importance of an apology – whether they are right or wrong.
2. Saying, “I love you”
I previously talked about the importance of saying the words I love you. It was never really said in my household. So when I used to hear my friends saying it to their parents, and vice versa, I always used to think it was strange. But I know what I missed out on as a child not hearing these words (and looking to hear them from all the wrong people). My siblings and I never told each other we loved each other and we hardly ever heard our parents say it. To this day, it still doesn’t feel organic. Obviously I do mean when I say it, but because it took nearly thirty years to hear it, it’s also hard to reciprocate it.
I don’t want my kids to ever feel like this about me or each other, so I tell them I love them all the time. I love hearing them tell each other the same. It shows and I know it makes a difference in how they will show up in this world.
3. Talking to my kids
I don’t remember ever having real conversations with my parents growing up. I’m referring to everyday conversations where more than a couple of words are exchanged. I’m talking about conversations about drugs, sex, money and alcohol to name a few. I’ve had to really make a conscious effort to talk to my kids even though they are still young. I talk to them about life and I encourage them to talk to me and ask me whatever questions they have. I won’t allow them to learn about sex, menstrual cycles etc through TV or social media.