Monday, May 2, 2011

Mirror reflection

This is a hard one for parents to accept, myself included: Your child or children are a perfect reflection of YOU. I like to think of my youngest daughter as a reflection of her older siblings, and to some extent this is true. When a three-year-old knows vocabulary most adults don’t use and greets you with, “What’s up?” you know she’s learning it from somewhere. But this behavior is not what I am talking about.

The part I’m talking about is something deeper—not actions, but feelings. What is the mood of your household? Being extremely smart and sensitive, kids seem to pick up on body language that most adults block out. They are little radios, transmitting the feelings of your family for the public to see and hear. You’re in a bad mood, they’re grouchy. You’re uptight in the store; they manage to break something. You fight with your mate; they fight with their siblings.

I fully understand that each child has a genetic make-up that makes them who they are, and that some are wound tighter than others. But I have noticed that my attitude has the biggest impact on the mood of our family. My oldest daughter is our high-strung child, but how much of that was caused by our neurotic behavior as first-time parents? We were stressed, so she would cry … she would cry, and we would get more stressed. Stress was the common feeling in our family.

Children are wiser than we give them credit for: they mimic our emotions. When mine are being exceptionally out of control and driving me insane, I wonder if it is them, or me. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s me. My feelings are contributing to their actions. If I take a break, regroup or get out of the house, my outlook changes, and so does theirs. They become enjoyable children again. So I don’t need to wake up and look in the mirror to figure out my mood. All I need is to look at my children—they are my mirror reflection.

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