Sunday, April 26, 2009

Children Watch and Learn From Us

Teenagers! What can I say? My daughter is 12. Sometimes she is a crazy bundle of fun and sometimes she seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. This was one of her down days.
She was bored and sad (and making a meal out of it!). Every time she complained about being bored I would suggest something she could do, but there were always bucketloads of reasons why she couldn't do any of them. The suggestion that she might enjoy tidying her bedroom just provoked a look that reminded me of thunderclouds -- she's been good at that look since she was two!
I was getting a little fed up with all this negativity, but I kept my patience. I gently suggested that possibly the very best way in the world to have a good day was to try and make it a better day for someone else. Then I suggested a few kind deeds she might like to do.
To my amazement, she seemed interested. Not so much in the kind deeds as in what I had said. When she spoke there was no hint of sarcasm or teenage attitude. Just honest-to-goodness curiosity. It was like my little girl had just come back into the room. "Does that mean that every day is a good day for you?" she asked.
I told her it did, we talked some more, then I left the room. I had to because I was welling up.
We all share good stories on this site, but they are only a snapshot of life. I have plenty of less nice aspects of my personality. I'm only too aware of them and they constantly bother me. But my daughter, who knows me better than most, seemed to think I spent every day making the day better for others.
Oh, wow!
Our children do watch us, and while our best (or worst) example often doesn't seem to have any visible effect on our children (especially teenagers!) that doesn't mean we should stop trying to be all we would want them to be. We teach our children through our lives. Helpothers

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