"Be who you needed when you were younger."
An annonymous quote I saw recently. Very thought provoking seeing how I became who I didn't want to be for my my oldest daughter. Who did I need when I was younger? When I was growing up? I needed someone who would see me and listen to me. Really listen. Someone who would see between the lines, who could listen to what I was really saying without being distracted by what was next on the list. I needed someone who wasn't too tired or worried about how the bills were going to be paid or worried about what other people would think. I needed someone who would give me real advice not based on perceptions and people pleasing. Someone who didn't try to fix everything but could just help me try to figure things out for myself.
Who did you need?
I am thankful for another chance...
Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk explains that in an environment where there are lots of rules there is a lack of love. I have contemplated this over and over again in recent months. At first I resisted it, I used to be a rules based person. 10 years ago, even 6 years ago maybe even 8 months ago I would have denied this statement fiercely reasoning that I have rules in my home as a result of love.
Then something happened. Something that rocked my world in a way I never thought possible. The specific details of this event will be shared one day but in the meantime, as a mom, I will warn you - do not take these few things for granted:
Due to this core rocking event and walking through the process of unpacking all that happened mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically I have a new outlook on rules vs. reason. You see, I previously parented out of fear. Fear I now realize is the opposite of love. Out of fear I had rules upon rules upon rules about TV shows, music, friends, boyfriends, sleepovers, texting, the internet, clothes - you name it I probably had a rule or expectation to go along with it and a list of reasons to justify my rules. If my precious daughter slipped up on one of these rules I quickly forced her back in to compliance with lectures, desperation, restrictions and removing electronic devices. I was fearful she would end up like I was as a young girl, fearful of being rejected by our friends, fearful of "losing her".
Thankfully this story is turning out to be one of restoration, love, freedom, connection and real relationship with my now adult daughter. Her younger sisters are reaping the reward of this new found wisdom and love. My eldest and I have a brand new relationship too. I am so thankful she has chosen to stay connected to her family, to rebuild and restore and have long lasting relationship with all of us.
Back to Rules vs. Reason - you can see where I am headed here. Does this mean no boundaries, a free for all in the home, on the internet, with boys, clothes, TV, music, movies and friends? No, but for our family this does mean guided behavior with boundaries, very different than rules. Talking, listening and helping my girls make their own decisions and then experience the consequences of those decisions while in the safety of our home. Learning to make good choices not just do what they are told or expected to do.
I am definitely a reason over rules parent now. Did I not really love my daughter when I had all my rules in place? I don't believe that at all. I love her and have always loved her but the environment I created due to my fearful parenting was not one of love, safety, freedom and acceptance. I was blinded by fear and missed some important opportunities to help my girl when she was struggling. As her story unfolded, pride and fear disappeared and the love I have for all my girls overflowed in humility and tenderness. I now know, fearless love is a fierce love and living in fear is very fragile.
Purchase these valuable resources here:
“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
When I was growing up being friends had a very different dynamic than it does today. Social media has changed not only the way we interact with people but the way we feel connected to them. My girls range in age from 10 - 19 so we have ridden the wave of social media interaction since the beginning. From MySpace to Facebook and now on to Snapchat and whatever the next big thing will be. It hasn't been easy and the truth is there have been times I have failed as I helped my girls navigate friendships in a social media world. At this point with my younger two we are at a slow crawl with social media connections. Outside of Instagram (which is a shared account two sisters and mom how cool is that? NOT for them but they tolerate it with a good attitude!) they don't have social media interaction, that I know of...but that is a post for another day.
On to friends, just being friends. I have a new found passion for friends, real life friends not social media friends. I am desperate to teach my girls how to be friends in real life. How to connect, feel connected and stay connected outside of social media. I believe it is possible. My goal is to teach them this while also teaching how to participate in social media. After all, social media is part of their world, it is part of our society. A wise woman in my life shared with me years ago - taking all social media and technology away from your children will only hurt them, they have to learn to navigate all of that in the world we live in today.
So what do friendships look like in today's world? Well some consist of lots of social media interaction such as "likes", comments and being tagged in posts. I have people in my life who do not feel connected to those with whom they are not actively interacting with on social media. Let's not forget about texting - I know some people who do not feel connected or begin to feel less of a friend if there is a lack of constant texting as well. So friendships in today's world are starting to look like social media interaction - sharing snapchats, texting, likes, comments, tagging each other in posts etc. some of this is private and some public for the world to see. None of it builds a true and lasting friendship. Key word build - I know we all keep in touch with friends near and far through social media. I believe that is one of its best benefits. For example I have a close group of college friends, we have a private group on facebook and use that to keep in touch with each other. Sharing news about our lives, families, careers, encouragement and planning our next trip together. These friendships were already built, we have roots, we have true connection. I do not believe likes, comments, tags in posts and the like build true connection.
What did friendships look like before social media? Talking to either in person or on the phone. Doing things together. Long distance friends had to call or write (and send via snail mail) letters or notes. High school friends would reconnect when home on breaks - and likewise reconnect with their college friends when they returned to school after breaks. Did these "breaks" mean the friendships were over or had become distant? No. With real friends you picked up where you left off - catch up on each others lives and there had no feeling of real distance - just that time had passed while you were in two different places living your life in the "now". Did you feel distant because you didn't have a real time window into what was going on like we do today through picture posting, likes, comments etc? No!
How do we merge these two worlds - the world of real connection and the world of social media interaction? That is what I am trying to figure out.
I know it takes time, and the risk of you getting caught up in your own social media web, but mom's please pay attention to your daughter's social media accounts. Read between the lines, see just past the selfies, read the comments, look at the likes. Why? Because they matter. This is how our our youth are relating to themselves and to their society. This is how they cry for help. This is where they fall into the trap of craving approval from others rather then just being themselves. This is where they live a "lie" - a life they want to portray to others but not exactly the life they are living. This is where they lash out at you (parents) or their friends. This is where "good" isn't always nice.
Talk to her. You don't have to comment, or interact on the social media sites. More than likely that will drive her away from you. Don't accuse or attack her but ask and actually listen. Be patient, keep trying.
How our girls handle their social media sites can help or hurt them the rest of their lives. Make sure you are involved and aware of what social media sites they have and what they are posting. Training during the younger years will help them handle social media when they are older.
Do you want to start a blog? Or need help with your blog?
Work with Heidi, Founder of #thesosblog
Coupon Code: SOSBLOG
#thesosblog contains affiliate links and may earn a small commission from purchases.