I’ve been living alone with my children for over a year and a half now and I’ve realized something I see between myself and other single parents. Whether you’re the custodial parent or not, when you have your children they are your main focus. So much so that your personal needs, wants, and likes are all based on what THEY need, want, or like. That’s okay in theory, but then when these children grow up, and they all do, we will all be suffering as we try to find ourselves. The best thing we can teach our children is to love ourselves NOW and to put our own needs first. We need to teach them self-love. One of the ways I’ve learned to teach myself self-love is to talk to my children as members of my home. I have them help me make decisions on OUR house. I don’t yell if they break something. I don’t freak out if they get their slime everywhere. Yes, there are times when there’s a sharp NO! yelled but for the most part I just accept kids are kids and the messes come with the territory.
There are many people who seem to truly have their lives together and they seem happy, but they still lose a child to suicide. They still get divorced. They still have to file for bankruptcy. They still suffer in some way, shape, or form. There are children who are so focused on being perfect for their parents that they develop physical symptoms or they totally go crazy once they are finally out of their parent’s house. There are numerous issues that teens face and parents need to realize that WE are the ones who can help change their futures. WE are the ones who can help them truly LOVE themselves. These are some of the statistics that teenagers face:
- The Amount of Teenagers Trying To Lose Weight: 44% of Females, 15% of Males.
- The Amount of Girls Avoiding Activities Due To Low Self-Esteem: Over 70%
- The Amount of Teenage Boys Exercising to Build Muscle: Over 40%
- The Amount of Girls With Low Self-Esteem Engaging in Negative Activities: 75%
- The Amount of Teens Who Experience Depression Before Adulthood: 20%
Something that I read while researching this topic is that the biggest thing children want from their parents isn’t going on lavish vacations. It isn’t their parent volunteering for every school activity. It isn’t Mom or Dad getting burnt out making sure they work so many hours to buy their children every little thing they could ever want. Nope. Guess what it is?
They Want You To COMMUNICATE With Them.
My oldest child is 13. I got lucky with him. We’ve been through a lot together but he talks to me about everything. He will also ask me sometimes to talk to his friends about issues they’re facing. I love that we have this openness. I never talk down to him like he’s a baby. I let him learn consequences on his own. For instance…when he was around seven years old we were at a festival on Fort Riley and he was begging for anything sweet. He got annoying to me so I said okay fine, I’ll get you whatever sweet foods and drinks you want. I then let him go on rides as he wanted to. He got on one ride after all of the sweets and proceeded to run to the trash can. He ended up doing that two more times. Then, we sat down and talked and I asked him why he thinks he’s throwing up. He told me it was all of the sweet food and he now understood why I was trying to limit his intake. He is now 13 and STILL remembers this. He remembers how we sat down and talked about it. He remembers how we communicated about it. I didn’t laugh at him. I didn’t tell him “I told you so.” I actively listened to him and he listened to me.
Children cannot stand being lectured. Most of the time when a child does something wrong they know it was wrong. They get that tingly feeling. My one daughter’s eyes water because she knows Mom can tell if she’s lying. They enjoy having communication with you. I have been lied to by my children. I don’t focus on calling them a liar or pointing out every lie they’ve ever told. I focus on how we can change the behavior. I lead by example with my children. I admit when I make a mistake. I apologize when necessary. I make sure they realize mistakes are a part of life.
Right now we are going on day five of my daughter’s backpack missing. She was full of blaming others for it missing. She is convinced a sibling hid it. She is convinced I’m horrible because I’m not helping look for it when she’s in full out tantrum mode. She realized this morning that she can buy a new agenda, she can use an old backpack, and she can ask the librarian how much her library books cost to replace. She’s not just going to be handed the money for the replacement items…nope. She will work to earn the money for it. I don’t have to yell at her. I don’t have to berate her. I don’t have to match her insanity when she cries at the drop of a hat. I just have to make sure she understands how to fix a problem and not let her emotions dictate her behavior.
Parents – don’t blame your children for the issues in your lives. Don’t blame your children for your extra hours of work, sleepless nights, or divorce. They are children. They want to be loved and heard. Listen to them. Love them. Cuddle with them and let them tell you all about their friends and teachers and their other parent. It’s helped me hear them speak highly of their father. It’s helped me realize that he’s truly a different person to them than he was to me. It’s helped me to communicate better. Communicating with my children in this way has helped ME to LOVE myself more. I’ve learned self-love by teaching my children how to communicate and my children are now passing this lesson off to their friends. It’s wonderful hearing about how wonderful of a child your son or daughter was with other people. It’s wonderful hearing your lessons paying off. It’s also wonderful hearing them argue with each other because, let’s face it, they’re still human. They’re far from perfect. You’re far from perfect. But, you’re still worth loving.