Years ago I attended a homeschooling conference, and one speaker said something that has stayed with me since.
After sharing the importance of including our children in the details of our everyday lives, he said, “But the only way you’ll include them is if you LIKE them.”
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Yet some developmental stages are far from pleasant.
How can we love our children in the midst of seasons when their behaviors may not be incredibly likeable?
Here are four strategies I’ve found helpful:
1. Get out the baby pictures.
Babies are sweet and kissable. Something about their helplessness endears them to us.
If you’re struggling with liking your child, try to start the morning with a quick moment in which you remember what your child was like as a baby.
Thinking about a few special memories will remind you that your kids are still the same souls they were then, and that may help you approach them with more compassion.
2. BE with your children.
“But I’m with them all. the. time!” you might reply. I know, but I’m realizing that often though I’m with them, I’m not with them.
Sometimes I float mentally in and out while crossing off items on my to-do list, only paying attention to the kids when something goes wrong.
Our children mirror what they see in us. If we’re not really “with” them, they know it–and sometimes their behavior pleads with us to be present.
3. Hug and kiss more.
This idea could also be called “fake it ’til you make it.”
Some might find this insincere, but I am often amazed that acting loving and affectionate helps me start to actually feel more loving and affectionate.
It can be hard to show affection to a child who has recently angered you, but doing so puts you both on the track to recovery.
4. See the best in them–like you hope they will with you.
As moms we hope our kids will remember the effort we put in and the love we gave, instead of the times we yelled or made mistakes. Don’t we need to do the same for them?
A child who is bossy may have a great capacity for leadership. One who cries easily may have a depth of sensitivity and compassion. Visualize what you see in them and what it may become in the future.
Doing so allows you to grab onto a strand of patience in the present.
It may not seem picture-perfect to admit not liking my children from time to time, but I bet those of you reading can relate. None of us have motherhood completely figured out, but we can find ways to hang on to joy in our day-to-day lives.
We’re in this for the long haul, after all. No resignations allowed.
Ready for more calm, less guilt, and quiet joy? Request Jamie’s free self-care list here!