After a tough day, whether it’s home with the kids or at the office, what is better than having someone you love know exactly what you need — and then provide it?
It doesn’t matter what that looks like. It can be the offer (or insistence) to make dinner and do the dishes while you read your favourite magazine; it may be drawing a hot bath and giving a relaxing back rub; or it could be as simple as taking the kids out for dinner and leaving you and your frazzled nerves all alone — in your own house.
A relationship such as that of a cherished friend or family member who knows you so well he or she doesn’t even have to ask what she/he can do for you or what you need — someone who can virtually read your mind — really takes the cake.
It feels good to be known like this, doesn’t it?
Our children inherently want to be known by us, their parents, in the same way. Unfortunately, for whatever societal reason, we have taken to eroding that sense of connection by incessantly asking our kids what they want.
Perhaps it is in an effort to empower them, to give them a sense of ownership or responsibility, but there is a cost. If anything, it can be confusing — particularly for a child under seven. Too many choices and options lead little ones to feelings of being overwhelmed rather than being deeply cared for. How is a four-year-old supposed to know which shoes or jacket to wear? As the parent, it’s our job to know the right garment for the weather, not our child’s.
“Momma knows just what you need,” or “Daddy will fix you a lunch you will love,” offers comfort and security for young children over the bombardment of questions: “What would you like in your sandwich today, almond butter, ham or cheese? Milk or juice to drink? Do you want pickles on the side or carrots?
I’ve heard that in “cultures of intimacy,” to ask someone their preference is to treat them like a stranger. In our society it is often perceived as rude not to ask.
The next time you are about to ask your child his or her preference (and I’ll bet it happens sooner than you think), stop for a moment and first ask yourself: Is this something I already know enough to decide for my child? If the answer is yes, you’ve just made a deeper connection with your son or daughter. If the answer is no, go ahead and ask!
I won’t go so far as to say you will always get it “right.” Just take any objection with a grain of salt and file the information away for next time. Sometimes the assertion to have things differently will be a statement on their preference; sometimes the child is simply asserting his or her will. In any case, keep your feelings neutral and don’t take it personally.
The beauty of being known in such a way is fortifying for all relationships. You may just find yourself practicing it with more than just your children!
Kirsten Andrews offers Simplicity Parenting workshops and courses throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor. Visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com and Facebook for more information or email her at kirsten@SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com.