Accepting Your Child For Who They Are

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By Colleen Sall

When our little ones are born, we have dreams for them. We can’t help it – it’s part of the reason we become parents. To live through our children’s successes, steer them toward what we’re interested in and steer them away from anything we wish we’d done differently.

But what happens when our children turn out not at all how we’d imagined? When Justin isn’t interested in baseball, even though Dad was a star player and Mom can’t get enough of the game? When we want to discuss with Jenna our love of science and the stars, but our child would rather be inside and watch TV? When our child doesn’t interact the way other children do because they have ADD?

Or even, when our child can’t communicate with us, or hug us, because we’ve learned he has Autism? Or when the child we believed to be a boy would rather – with all the child’s might – be a girl?

I’ve gone the extremes here to make a point. Depending on who we are and what we hope for and expect of our children, it can be hard to accept that our kids can turn out to be much different than we expected.

Of course, we say “I’ll love my child for who they are, no matter what.” But at times, living that phrase to its fullest is easier said than done.

The hope lies in finding something that you can relate to your child on – not what you, the parent would like, but what your child is interested in.

You may have an aversion to bugs, but your child might want to become an entomologist, spending hours watching insects and collecting them. If you can’t tolerate touching them, watch your child and encourage her interest.

Do you wish your daughter fit the girly stereotype and loved doing hair and makeup with you, but she prefers playing in the mud? Or maybe the roles are reversed? Maybe suggesting a little give-and-take for activities would be a good idea.

I Googled this topic and found scores of web sites and advice. One of the simplest yet most effective lists provided these simple rules by Fred A. Hartley. The full article is available online at the website imom.com by clicking here.

  1. Can I legitimately say that I accept my daughter for who she is?
  2. Do I tell her?
  3. Do I regularly communicate to my son his unique identity?
  4. Have I ever felt distant from him or her?
  5. Have I ever spoken hurtful, angry words that left my child wounded? If so, have mended the fences?
  6. Have I identified common ground with my child? Am I building a relationship on it?

While good parents all know this is important, having a list like this with honest questions helps us to stay on track with our child for those moments when we may feel disconnected from them.

Parenthood is a journey with twists and turns and it is not easy, but if we can help ourselves stay on the right path, we’re sure to get where we want to go with our families.

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