Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Summer of Happiness: For Parents

And, we're back! Hope your fourth was a great one. I had a lot of fun welcoming some great ladies over for a virtual pool party. For reals, we had a fabulous time with friends, lounging and watching children play.

When I see my children comfortably interacting with new and old friends, I find it easy to be happy in my role as parent...but this is not always the case, right? Parenting is our topic for this week's bookclub. Just to recap, we're doing a tag-along bookclub with Denise over at Hello Moxie. She posted on this chapter last week (while we have our fabulous guests staying over).

Here's what Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project set forth for herself as she came to April and exploring the relationship of parent and child: 
  • Sing in the morning. 
  • Acknowledge the reality of people's feelings.
  • Be a treasure house of happy memories. 
  • Take time for projects. 
I always cheat and read ahead to see what the goals for the next chapter will be and then in my head I assess whether I'd have any, some, or all of the same goals. This list of four struck me as an usual quad for parenting, and I was intrigued to read more. Her pairing of the title "Lighten Up" with Parenthood hit home for sure.

I'm proud to be the mom of two daughters - 7 yo M and 5 yo C - and one son, little L, age 2.
And when I read about what Gretchen described as fog happiness, I totally got it. Check this:
The experience of having children gives me tremendous fog happiness. It surrounds me, I see it everywhere, despite the fact that when I zoom in on any particular moment, it can be hard to identify.
Sometimes I grow frustrated with myself or my children because I don't feel, moment to moment, happy with where we are (I often feel tired, excited, ready). When I can have a bit of separation and can see more clearly, I realize how profoundly happy I am to be their mother and to walk with them through the many stages of development, and it all makes sense under the fog of happiness.

"To become more tender and playful..." is the target for Gretchen. I too have put this as a goal for my mom self on a number of different occasions.  I actually find it very helpful to observe other moms doing this well, and I think of a mom friend that I see in Church. She has 7 little people under her tutelage, and she handles them each with what I call, "soft hands." No matter how her children react/behave (good or bad), she always has a soft hand to encourage, console, correct. She's always reaching out to them, physically and sending them signals of her love through gentility and tenderness.

I adored her strategies for really listening to children's feelings. She's right, and I need to take into account how they feel more often (rather than pushing through with my agenda).

  1. Write it down - eg: "I'm going to write that down. Eleanor does not like to wear snowboots."
  2. Don't feel as if you have to say anything - Yes! More true with some of our children than others, but when C is frustrated, it's so good to just hug her for 2 minutes than always talk through a situation.
  3. Don't say no - eg: instead of saying, "No, not until after lunch" try "Yes, as soon as we're finished with lunch."
  4. Wave my magic wand - eg: "If I had a magic wand, I'd make it warm outside so we wouldn't have to wear coats."
  5. Admit that a task is difficult - eg: "Socks can be tough to get off."

I think the recommendation of being a treasure house of happy memories is a really smart one.
Because people remember events better when they fit with their present mood, happy people remember happy events better, and depressed people remember sad events better. Depressed people have as many nice experiences as other people - they just don't recall them as well.
I'm all about making up traditions, celebrating and reliving great moments, and this cause me to pause to think about how I share this all with my children.

So here's what I'm taking on for this week:

Acknowledge the reality of my children's feelings.


I feel powerful to have five strategies in which to do this so I'm excited for the happiness that's coming my way. 

Here's a final thought (aka pinnable) to leave you with...the four stages of happiness!
Happy reading, friends!! Do tell, how do you keep happiness alive in your relationships with your children?

XOXO,
MJ



 

1 comment:

prettyanddelectable said...

Love these strategies, MJ! Kids can definitely be frustrating at times. My husband reminded me the other day that it's not easy being a three-year-old... so true and easy to overlook!