how it feels when your kids hold up a mirror for you

At bed time, I closed the door behind me as I left my two-year-old’s room. He started crying at full volume. So I reentered his room to find out what the problem was. “I was talking to you, mommy,” he said, meaning, “Why did you leave mid-sentence?”

So I let him finish his statement. It was something about how the fan was blowing my hair. I had known what he was saying the first time and walked out before he finished his thought.

I get it now. He needs me to listen and hear him out. Even when I believe I already know what he’s going to say.

Kids are pretty good at giving their parents feedback. Here’s another example.

“I don’t want to be a daddy when I grow up,” my five-year-old said today as he was finishing his lunch.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because my children would disappoint me,” he said.

Whoa.

“Did you know that mommy and daddy are more often pleased with you than disappointed with you?” I asked. He laughed a little, relieved. I went on to list some of the things I like about parenting, including playing with my children and helping them learn new things.

Since that conversation I’ve been thinking about how to make sure I balance the reprimands and reminders he receives with affirming statements.

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