“Well, good for you. You stopped rushing your younger child and undid some of the damage, but what about your older daughter? What about her? What about the damage you did to her?”
It was a question posed by a commenter on this post almost a year after it was published.
Although the reader had no way of knowing, I’d addressed the damage that my hurried, perfectionistic ways had on my older daughter in several painful posts like this one and this one. But for some reason when I read his comment I saw an underlying question: You describe what you did to love your younger daughter as herself, but what about your older daughter? What did you do to love her “as is”?
To me, that question was far more important to address than what damage was done. It’s taken months, maybe even years, but I finally have an answer. I hope it will help someone crack open a few undiscovered pages of a book well worth reading. This is my story …
When I experienced the “hurry up” epiphany several years ago, I realized I needed to make changes before I completely stifled my younger daughter’s carefree spirit. What Avery needed was painfully obvious—it was written all over her face. She needed me to stop trying to change her … to let her be herself … to love her “as is.”
I dug deep to find patience buried inside my productivity-driven soul and stopped trying to turn my child into someone she was not. I noticed certain offerings produced a wide smile, a sigh of contentment, or the look of relief on her face. I learned:
Saying the words “take your time” was love to this child. I tried to say it at least once a day.
Allowing her to do her own hair was love to this child. I stepped aside and let her fashion her own haphazard ponytail for school. If she was happy with how it looked, I chose to be happy with it too.
Letting her play the guitar notes as she felt they should be played was love to this child. I sat back and watched and left the correcting to her instructor.
Giving her assurances in new situations was love to this child. I stopped dismissing her fears and hesitations. I stopped saying, “It’s no big deal. Stop crying,” and instead said, “New things are scary, but I think you are ready. You can do this.”
Speaking gently and not so sharply … letting her do things differently than I did … giving her privacy when she was getting dressed were acts of love in Avery’s book. And through this process of watching, listening, and observing, I learned how to love this child and even found myself borrowing a few pages from her book to re-write my own. Witnessing her approach to life helped me slow down, live better, and love more than I ever imagined I could.
But how to love as my older daughter “as is” was not so obvious. Natalie was the speedy one, the planner, the supervisor, the overachiever, and the worrier. Her book was strikingly similar to my own book, and this didn’t really come as a surprise. I didn’t begin my Hands Free journey until Natalie was six years old and the letting go process took several years. But the more Hands Free I became, the more I could see my former Type-A tendencies in my older daughter. Every time she was impatient, strived for perfection, or laid awake worrying about things beyond her control, the word damage flashed like a neon sign in my guilt-ridden mind. What have I done? I thought. Was there any way to undo the damage?
I knew that changing Natalie’s personality was not the answer, just like it was not the answer with Avery. I knew I needed to love her “as is”, but the how part was trickier than it had been with Avery. Many of Natalie’s predominant characteristics were the ones I’d worked on reigning in, chilling out, and letting go in myself. Would it be possible to see them in a positive light after the damage they’d caused in my own life? I was in a quandary for many, many months. And just when I expected even more uncertainty due to our family’s move to a new state, I received unexpected clarity.
Within the first six weeks of all things new, Natalie would be asked to demonstrate her beautiful streamline swimming technique to her new swim team. She would be pulled aside by her coach and encouraged to strive for state qualification times. She would tape the goal times to her bulletin board for inspiration. She would begin to believe her big dreams were not untouchable. At school, she would be chosen to help in the kindergarten classroom each morning. She would get up early in anticipation of her job. She would delight in hearing her name called out by the kindergarteners as she departed their classroom each morning. She would begin looking into getting safe sitter certified. She would begin an avid interest in the medical field and begin highlighting thick text books on the floor of her bedroom at night. The planning, achieving, and goal-oriented qualities that were problematic in the “old” me, looked an awful lot like strengths in this new place where they found the freedom to shine in this child.
I took Natalie shopping for a new dress for church recently. She selected a tribal print dress from the rack. She closed the dressing room door and a few minutes later asked me to take a look. I opened the door and peeked in. She looked at me briefly, but her eyes went back to her own reflection. She was smiling at herself. I thought it was the happiest I’d seen her look in months, maybe years. I cannot be sure of what she saw, but something told me it was the budding teacher … the competent swimmer… the medical doctor in training. I quickly excused myself. (She already thinks I cry too much as it is.) I pretended I was looking at vintage t-shirts as I gripped the clothing rack and blinked back my tears.
She would be okay.
This child loved herself.
All of herself. Every page of her beautiful, unique book. Those Type-A tendencies that rubbed off on her when I was living my highly distracted, perfectionistic life were there. Oh yes—they were there. But in this case, the positive outshone the negative. Natalie was using those qualities to propel herself forward and find her place in the world. She loved herself because I loved her—or shall I say because I learned how to love her.
Respectfully listening to her outlandish dreams and unusually mature insights was love to this child.
Giving her truth about the dangers and turmoil of the world was love to this child.
Apologizing and admitting my wrong-doing was love to this child.
Allowing her to lean into me rather than force a full-on hug was love to this child.
Staying beside her at night when she felt like talking was love to this child.
Giving her more and more responsibility and letting her succeed and fail was love to this child.
Letting her take on creative projects that seemed too complicated and too messy was love to this child.
I always struggle with what parts of my journey will be helpful to others on their own journey. As I debated on whether or not to publish this lengthy post, I received a plea for help in an e-mail that ended with these words:
“I see that you know. You know how to love your daughters. I want to know how to love mine.”
To this dear reader … to those experiencing disconnection with someone they love … to those who feel like they have done too much damage … to those who want a few first steps to love “as is”, I offer this:
To Love You by Your Book: A Daily Pledge
I will study you. I will listen to you. I will watch your face when I use certain words or tones. What brings smiles? What brings pain? I will take note. I will use words that build you instead of break you. When I see that something I do makes you feel uncomfortable and rejected, I will remember and try not to do it anymore.
I want to love you by your book.
I will have one-on-one time with you even if this means having to disappoint people outside my family or make personal sacrifices. Making time to know you may mean declining extra commitments or reducing extracurricular activities. It may mean watching a television show I don’t care for or being willing to learn about your hobbies. It may mean sitting beside you in silence. I vow to be available to you. I vow to show you that you’re worth my time and attention.
I want to love you by your book.
I will tell you all the positive things I notice about you, instead of pointing out where you fall short. There's enough people who will do that. I will be your encourager. I will be your #1 fan. I want to hear you laugh. I want to see you smile. I want to watch you shine.
I want to love you by your book and witness your amazing story unfold.
Friends of the Hands Free Revolution, I invite you to share your stories, struggles, and triumphs on the topic of learning to love other human beings by their book. The comment section of this blog serves as a resource for many people each week. The poem in this post became part of my second book, HANDS FREE LIFE. It is an inspiring resource for anyone yearning to cultivate more presence and acceptance in their home and heart. I want you to also know our community is supported by two highly trained colleagues who help me answer difficult reader questions that go beyond my expertise. Anytime Sandy Blackard or Theresa Kellam respond to a reader who is struggling, there is so much wisdom in their responses. I have provided a few links to previous questions and responses for anyone in search of wisdom and guidance today:
Sandy's response to:
“Lost Dad” on how to stop bullying his child: click here
“Christina” on helping perfectionist child: click here
“Lisa” on freedom from inner-critic: click here
“Seth” on helping perfectionist self: click here
“Debbie” on never too late: click here
Theresa's response to:
“Ojusti” on healing relationships: click here
“Bullied” on ending bullying in workplace: click here
To those who would like to contact Sandy or Theresa directly, here is more information:
If you feel like there should be something you can do to turn things around but you don't know what it is, feel lost, stuck or overwhelmed, contact:
Sandra, parenting/life coaching: http://www.languageoflistening.com
If you feel hopeless like nothing you do will ever work, or if you or your child(ren) are experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, attention problems, self-inflicted injury, suicidal thoughts, or are simply wishing for healing, contact:
Theresa, PhD, licensed psychologist: http://www.theresakellam.com
For additional wisdom about forming a loving and harmonious relationship with your child, read: Why Some Parents & their Children Have Great Friendships
i enjoy your blog and really like and need to hear the things you write about.. i have a 15 year old an 11 year old and a 2 1/2 year old.. my older two are fantastic.. easy going .. great students and i get them i know what makes them tick.. the 2 1/2 year old for sure needs “loved in a different manner” and it is a struggle at times.. as things upset her that i don’t understand.. like certain shoes and certain hair bows.. clothing… it can really get to me and i end up yelling at this perfect little person who in her own way is trying to tell me she doesn’t like something… I really need to follow your pledge and love her by her own book
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for sharing your story, Megan. We are all learning, aren’t we? It’s so nice to know we are not alone.
Sandy Blackard says
Rachel introduced me above, and I have to say that I’m so glad you shared your comment! I suspect that even while writing it, your understanding of your youngest daughter deepened and brought more understanding to other readers with young children.
As Rachel demonstrates in this post and in so many others, the way to stop yelling at a child is to step into the shoes of that “perfect little person,” as you so aptly put it. When you asked yourself why your perfect child does what she does, you discovered that you already know. It’s almost always like that. To borrow Rachel’s phrase, seeing your child as perfect “as is,” ensures a positive answer, and when it’s positive it’s more likely to be correct.
Then when you understand what makes your child “tick,” all that’s left to do is say that instead of yelling. When your response comes from a place of understanding instead of judgment, you can remain calm without effort. It can sound like this: “You want me to know that you don’t like that, and you don’t like that either! Seems like you keep trying things, looking for something you like. That’s you practicing choosing and learning to be decisive! You’ll know the right one when you see it. ”
Just by making it OK for a child to be indecisive, that child will instantly become more decisive, and then you can point that out, too as in, “You knew you didn’t like that one or that one, and quickly found one you liked! That’s decisive!” This will make a big difference in how she sees herself for life.
Speaking from the child’s point of view and pointing out her strengths will also help you remain patient even in a time crunch. When you are in a hurry you can add a boundary like this, “You want more time to choose, AND it’s time for us to go. Hmmm. Must be something you can do!”
The word AND takes the struggle out of a boundary by turning it into a simple problem to solve. That’s because AND gives equal weight to both sides – what the child wants and the boundary. Phrased like that and followed by my all purpose CAN DO – must be something you can do – you and the child will automatically start to look for ways to do both.
I’m sure you can think of a solution already, like taking a bunch of bows along to choose in the car, but as much as possible let your daughter figure out what to do for this time and in the future, because you know this will come up again. Then you can add problem-solver and planner to her list of strengths, too!
I just read this post on loving a child by their own book. It is powerful beyond words. My daughters are both grown women now, and I have made such a lot of mistakes while bringing them up. I was struggeling with my own past and could not see the end, and it took years and years and a lot of therepay before I could even look at myself with love and acceptance. So now I look at them in wonder and know that it is a miracle that they both have turned out so well. So sometimes the human spirit will survive, no matter what is thrown at it. I want to thank my daughters for loving me, and for loving themselves and believing in themselves.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for this beautiful message of HOPE that you are offering us all today. Someone is reading this with tears in his/her eyes right now believing for the first time that maybe things can still turn out well. I am grateful for you & your daughters, Caren.
Larissa Cline says
There are so many of these posts that I find myself identifying with, often. This was one that hit close to home today. My son is 5 years old. He is such a free spirit, always the center of attention. Since he was born, he’s been out little clown. My daughter is 8. Since her brother’s birth, I’ve worried that she sometimes feels lost in the spotlight. She’s the quiet one, the beautifully creative one, the one who can’t learn enough about anything she can get her precious little hands on. She reads. Everything. All the time. This year, she has to share her school with her little brother. Although she says it doesn’t bother her, I hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes. She feels lost in his spotlight again.
Last week, she was SO withdrawn after school one day. Through the rush of dinner, homework and baths, I just didn’t find time to really find out what was going on. Until bedtime. When I tucked her in, she just started to sob. I held her and simply asked “what’s going on?” Turns out, the adjustment to having a first year teacher, a male, after 3 years of very nurturing female teachers hasnt been an easy transition. Although she’s bringing home “perfect” math papers , she feels like she’s struggling in math. She missed a couple questions on her AR test that day, and anything less than “100%” is a failure to her. As I comforted her, I was amazed at how mature her responses were. Then she told me she saw a math problem on the 4th grade board that she couldn’t figure out. She just started 3rd grade! She told me she feels so much pressure, fears she’s not going to pass 3rd grade, and she desperately misses her wonderful 2nd grade teacher. My heart broke for my daughter as I sat and held her sobbing little body for 45 minutes. It occurred to me, in those minutes, that she really is my mini-me. She is already worrying about her future, feeling pressure to be good enough (because the way SHE gets attention is by bringing home good grades and being such an incredibly smart kid), and much like I felt about my little brother, she’s lost in his spotlight.
Reading your post today helped me see that these qualities in her can be good, as long as I continue to support her, comfort her, reassure her that she can do ANYTHING she wants in life, but it’s ok to be a kid sometimes, too. The qualities she has as an 8 year old can either keep her grounded, or overwhelm her. I want to love her, support her, and allow her to grow at her own pace.
Thank you for your posts, your wisdom. As parents, it’s so important to know others are experiencing similar circumstances and feelings.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Larissa, for sharing this beautiful example of providing what your child needed–your presence, your love, your arms holding her tight. We cannot “fix” our children’s hurts, but we can hear them. Sometimes just having our pain be understood and acknowledged gives us the strength to carry on. I am grateful for your story today.
Kristin Schnuckle says
Rachel, beautiful post! Thank you! I wish you’d make a bracelet with the words, “take your time” on it. I have your others. This would be such a beautiful reminder as I put it on each day. I have an observer, too :).
I needed this today. My nine year old son and I have been butting heads on just about everything, and he was starting to feel lost to me. I thought it was just because our personalities are so similar… This was the reminder I needed – to love him by his book. Thank you. Wonderful post.
I have been on the Journey with you for over a year now and continue to strive for Only Love Today each day but it’s a struggle every day. Your posts touch me and often make me cry and they stick with me like a mantra to urge me to keep striving for the relationships I desperately seek with my girls. Thank you for this message today and the reminder that our children are who they are and we must learn to love every part of them as is or we will miss out on their beauty.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Denise. I am so grateful you are here walking beside me. Your message is writing fuel to my heart today.
I have 6 children and have been reading your blog for a while. I have learned so much – but this post really speaks to me. Most of my children are adopted (5 of the 6) from the foster care system and carry damage with them every day. It can be very painful for them and causes some unusual behaviours at times. This post has inspired me to write a list for each of my children that is similar to the lists you shared of ways to love your daughters. I want them to feel as though I love them sincerely and sometimes I find myself trying to make them fit a mould rather than loving them how and where they are. Thank you for your inspiration.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for sharing, Anne. I always love to hear the action steps people are taking to concretely communicate and express love to others. I think this is a fabulous idea of yours. Please keep me posted. PS As a former special education teacher who worked with children from the foster care system, please know that I am celebrating YOU today and the gift of love that you are giving to your children’s lives. Bless you.
I cried as I read your post. I have this precious little girl and the sweetest little boy, both under 3 yrs old, and I find myself so frustrated with them so much of my day. I want to practice what you outline here in this blog, but I find myself falling backwards at times. I’ve had only read one or two things you’d written, and I’m so glad I found you again today. Thanks for creating an encouraging and forgiving learning environment. I need this. 🙂
I love your blog. I have a 3 year old girl and a 4 month old girl. I work full-time but I get home by 4pm everyday thankfully.
I hate to rush my sweet toddler Nora. She loves to move at her own pace, discuss everything, take 20 minutes to pick an outfit. During the weekends or evenings this is fine. But in the mornings My husband and I really do have to get to work. I always try not to rush her too much- but there HAS to be some pushing inthe morning or I cannot get to work to make a living! (My mom and mother in law watch them). How do I deal with these stressful mornings better without making her feel rushed and missing out on moments? How do I explain to her that we have to get to work without her feeling like she is less important to us than work? Thanks!!
If the kids go to Grandma’s for the day maybe you should not get them dressed at all. Take them in their PJ’s with 2 outfits the 4 YO can choose from. That way she gets the freedom to “choose” but not the overwhelming decision of ALL her clothes. Lastly, Pack as much as you can at night so you’re not rushed in the morning.
I have 5 kids. 8 and under so this is a must at our house. Sunday mornings are a rush at our house so everything MUST be done the night before. It makes things so much more peaceful for ALL of us. You can do it!!!! I promise.
I have a friend whose son was like this in the morning. To save a little time in their morning routine, they would pick out their outfits (mom too) at night, so they were ready to go the next day! Or if she is going to relatives house, bring her in her pjs and bring the clothes in a bag to get dressed their 😉
I felt like I had to respond to this. I also have 2 girls, and when they were just a bit older than yours, my husband transitioned to a new job that meant he would have to leave every morning before any of us were awake. This meant I had to take over morning duty and get myself and the two girls up, breakfasted, dressed, and off to our separate locations for the day. It seemed so overwhelming. We had a lot of crappy mornings at the beginning that included me yelling GET IN THE CAR a lot and generally feeling awful about it all, but I will tell you a few things that helped us and hopefully they could help you too. First thing is, we have a schedule that the girls and I both know. They are old enough now to read the time but even before that we talked about it–like “it’s 8:20, breakfast is over now, time to go get dressed!” We divided up the morning into breakfast, getting dressed time, brushing teeth/combing hair time, and then putting on shoes/getting backpacks ready, etc. They know what time each thing starts and stops and what time we need to leave the house. This way they both feel involved in helping us leave on time. We have to leave the house by 8:45 now to meet my older daughter’s school bus and THEY will be the ones who are like “Mom, it’s 8:40, are you ready?” 🙂 Also we always pick clothes out the night before. We look at weather.com on my phone to figure out what is appropriate, think about what activities we have, and then pick an outfit for each girl and lay it out on top of their dressers. No fighting in the morning and they can get themselves dressed while I clean up the breakfast dishes. The other main thing was a change I made in my own morning routine so that I did not have to try to do my own stuff at the same time I was helping with theirs. This meant making sure to get up early enough that I could exercise and get myself completely showered and dressed before they get up (this doesn’t always work if they get up early but the time is there at least!). It means I am up super early and it took a while to get used to that, but I found that if I was ready to go and could focus on them, everyone was happier and I felt much less stressed, and therefore less cranky. And I also have half an hour at night right after the kids go to bed when I do lunch packing and go through any forms or whatever that I need to fill out for school the next day, so everything is ready to go in the morning. It takes a lot of advance planning but that makes for smoother mornings for us. The other thing is though, try to give yourself a break. I have been doing this for more than 3 years now and still just this very morning was an epic fail. Yelling, spilled milk, lost shoes, and all. The girls and I had to do a huddle before we left the house to say “well, this morning was not any fun but we love each other and we’re going to have a good day.” It’s OK, because we’ll try again tomorrow. Good luck. You’re not alone!
Sandy Blackard says
Rachel introduced me above, and I just wanted to pop in here to say that in addition to the great suggestions provided by the other readers above, the answer you are seeking is in your description of your daughter.
You have already observed her per Rachel’s pledge , and recognized what love looks like to her. You know she loves to move at her own pace and discuss everything, which also means she likes to try things out and think things through WITH YOU.
Whether you have time to do that with her or not, saying exactly that will help you stay connected in the moment, help her feel loved, keep her in touch with her strengths, and help her cooperate with your boundary, much as I described in my reply to Megan above:
My little handbook, SAY WHAT YOU SEE teaches you how to set the kind of loving boundaries you are looking for and more. The biggest trick for you will be in changing how you see your morning boundary.
You asked, “How do I explain to her that we have to get to work without her feeling like she is less important to us than work?” The thing is that children don’t automatically think that meeting a schedule makes them less important. That kind of painful thinking comes from us and is usually based on something we decided as children. When you step back and look at the other possibilities, you will see that being on time can actually be a point of pride for a child, especially if she is the one to come up with the solution for how to get that done.
What happens when you hold the belief that hurrying a child means she is less important than the end goal (work, school, etc), every morning will feel like you are crushing her spirit! Instead of saying, “Hurry!” to her, in your mind what you hear and react to is, “You’re not important!” No wonder you hate it and find it hard to do. That would be painful!!!
But what if “Hurry!” just meant “I want to get to work on time” or “I want you to know the joy of mastery of time”? Then it would not be a painful thing, but a way to accomplish a goal together. Throw in some how-fast-can-you-go or some silly how-slow-can-you-go-and-still-get-this-done games, and mornings can actually be fun. I know making mornings fun is a stretch, but I hope it helps you see that so much more than pain is possible when it comes to getting out the door. It really is all in how you see it.
If you want more help shifting your belief about importance vs time, let me know. Meanwhile, you can also try this:
Since you have an infant, Nora may need more time for connection with you than before, and her slow and deliberate ways that involve you might be her way of meeting that need. When her way doesn’t work for you as in crunch time in the morning, you will need to come up with other ways that do like cuddling her awake, having her tell you how many hugs she wants before getting in the car, games, etc.
Games help keep a child’s “cup” full, as Dr. Lawrence Cohen describes in his classic book, PLAYFUL PARENTING. So does setting aside more time during the evening or weekends for just you and her alone together. Connection can make a huge difference as you can see in all of Rachel’s posts. My colleague Theresa’s book: THE PARENT SURVIVAL GUIDE teaches you how to set up weekly 30-min playtimes that can meet a child’s need for connection so well that the effects last all week and ensure connection for a lifetime.
You can find all these books and more on the recommended reading page of my website:
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Hi Leah – I am going to chime in on Sandy’s response with a few ideas as well. As a special education teacher, I learned that giving my students (as well as my younger daughter) a 5 minute warning helped them more than a longer time period. For instance, you might say, “We are going to leave in 5 minutes. I need you to put on your shoes and pick out the purse you want to take.” For my students, I used a kitchen timer or a sand timer so they could see how much time they had. This helped tremendously. You might also try giving your child one task at a time. Like, “You have 5 minutes to get dressed.” Then set the timer for 5 minutes. Then you may give her 5 minutes to put on her shoes. My students learned to set the timer themselves and actually loved to be in charge of setting it. I learned to give my daughter time to just go at her pace when we could, but there are times in life when we must be punctual. This is when a kitchen timer would be helpful. My daughter did not need the timer for long, but an advanced warning worked well. I really focused on praising her when she did what she needed to do without stopping to play. All kids are different so just see what works for your family.
I have one more thought. This is something I still use with my daughter age 8 at bedtime. I say, “At 7:45, I am going to begin reading stories. In the next 15 minutes you need to get on your pjs, brush teeth, and put your dirty clothes in the hamper. It is up to you how much of the story you hear. I will read from 7:45 til 8.” This really motivates her to get what she needs to get done so she can hear the story. It is important to stick to what you said. If you said “lights out at 8,” and he did not hear the story, that is the consequence. The next day remind her that she missed the story so she will need to do her nightly duties more quickly if she wants to hear it. Maybe you could apply this to morning by telling her if she is in the car when you need to leave, she can pick out a music CD to play. We used to get them from the library and my girls loved listening to stories on CD when they were 3. Here is one more great article I read today and this might also help you: http://www.ehow.com/ehow-mom/blog/how-i-got-my-preschoolers-to-get-themselves-fed-and-ready-every-morning/
Last thought: Whenever you do happen to have time and are not on a schedule, be sure to say things like, “It’s okay, we have time today. You don’t have to rush.” Or “Take your time,” — to our little Noticers of the World those are very loving and affirming words. Thanks for being here!
I am crying after reading this it describes me to a T I feel so bad
Just beautiful. Honest, raw, sweet and inspiring.
Once again am right on time to read your post. As I read through so many things resonated with me and the way I have been bringing up my children. When you talked of damage, I looked back at the damage I have already done to my son(11years). He is impatient with his sister and shouts and gets angry at her and it is not once that I have thought of how I made him to become this way. Whenever he does it I blame myself. I taught him impatience, anger and shouting. Now I wonder how to undo it and most of the times I am helpless. I am helpless because am still at the baby steps of handsfree living and I haven’t perfected it to show by example. I never lose hope on myself though and whenever I find myself doing or saying something wrong, I remember that I still have another chance. Sometimes they tell me what they don’t like me to do or say and am grateful. Last night my son asked me how I would feel if he was the one rushing me the way I do to him. We made a deal that he shall do what he is supposed to do at the right time and I will stop rushing him and blaming him. This morning he even commented that it was different. I have to make some sacrifices to enable them be themselves. I will study each one of them and know them better so that I may love them by their book. I will love them as they are and not try to change them. That is where I have been wrong all along. Thank you so much for these insights. Keep writing Rachel.
I’m 41 and*still* yearning to be loved “as is” by my mother (sounds like Avery and I are much alike). Because I’m not and I have to draw boundaries to keep my heart safe, our relationship is often tense and strained and not what it could be. Since I can’t force my mother to change, at least I can do my best to love my 3-y.o. son “as is” and do those things that speak love to him. Thank you.
I am 58 and know that I will never be loved “as is” by my mother. I decided many years ago that I needed to find my “emotional” mother, other women who DO love me “as is”. Since then and finding those women, I am much happier. Draw your boundries, yes. And remember to find those you can draw in.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
This is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing and giving someone else a light of hope today. I am grateful for you.
As I read this, I couldn’t believe how I was so connected. It really felt as if you were writing about my two girls and all the misguided correction I once thought was true. It was very enlightening and reassuring to know that I was not alone in my journey to perfection. Thank you for your transparency.
To me, the comment that inspired this post is really quite rude. I’m impressed that you were able to get past the negativity and find something useful in it. What a poignant question – how do we love something in our children that we view as a flaw in ourselves? Fascinating thought and wonderful post. Thank you!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Olivia. That means a lot to me because you are right—that comment stung. There was about a 2 year period when I could not read critical comments. If I saw where they were going, I stopped reading. They didn’t help my writing process, so I didn’t subject myself to them. Slowly over time, I have been able to read the negative comments again and what I find is that there is pain in many of them and I try to think about where that person might be coming from inside. I have written quite a few heartfelt posts from negative comments lately. So many of them are not really about me, but a cry for help. I appreciate your kind words of support. I cherish every kind word that is given to me. They really fuel me to keep sharing.
Thank you for sharing that it is possible to get to a place where you can separate yourself from negative comments. I still find myself being deeply cut by negative comments. I didn’t know that it was possible to be able to distance yourself and see the hurting person behind the comment. I haven’t blogged in a long. The fear of negative comments has been a large part of that. It takes great courage to bare your deepest self in front of others.
I just realized this morning that working hard at something and being focused on a goal is different than being a perfectionist, and your entry confirmed it!
I was raised withthe idea that a parent can’t be friends with their child, I’ve eventold my 5 year old (when he said he didn’t like me) that “I’m not here for you to like me or to be your friend, I’m here to teach you how to be an adult” (I still am cringing)! I read your posts and see I can do both. I can be friend, supporter, and parent! It’s HARD to fix relationships, especially with more children, but I want to! Hopefully, I won’t have to”fix” my relationship with my 7 mos old and I can get it right from the start.
As always, beautifully written and so meaningful. Thank you Rachel for sharing your journey! I miss seeing you and your sweet girls! Please tell Natalie that we are rooting for her. Hugs to sweet Avery. Swim fast!!
Thank you once again for sharing your ideas and what you are learning. I have a lot of shame because I don’t love my oldest son enough. There are many times I can’t stand him. He hurts my feelings and I even worse — I know I hurt his. There are so many things to love about him. He is gifted and interesting. He is very kind and a wonderful person. But despite everyone else loving him just the way he is, I don’t. I don’t have this problem with my younger two kids. The last few days actually I have wondered where to turn for help and healing. I have been praying for love and to see him as God does. I know enough about life to know this is my problem, not his. And I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t like me either. This isn’t a problem I can talk to friends about (Who hates their own kid?!). Last night I considered googling “what do I do if I hate my own child” but that seemed so disgusting I couldn’t bring myself to type that. Thank you. I will start by reading the comments and the book you suggested. Keep writing, please!
I, myself, have told God at times that I hate one of my children. I have found that being honest has always brought help. You aren’t alone. I know God will bring healing into your home even as He is into mine.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Ruth. I am grateful for this loving offering to M. Bless you, friend.
I have often felt the same way about my oldest son, he’s 7. I have felt like our relationship is more similar to siblings than to a mother and son. I also have 5 and 3-year old boys who have been easy for me to love. I have always struggled with my oldest. When he started school his teachers told me about how friendly, smart and dependable he was in class and it made me happy but also frustrated bc he wasn’t that way at home with his brothers and me. He always seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. He experiences emotions pretty intensely, and can be really disrespectful. I used to think we didn’t mesh because we were so different, but recently I began to realize how his behavior mirrors the way I have treated him. I yell, he yells. I have mom tantrums, so does he. I’m disrespectful toward him, he is towards me. Once I realized this, it hurt, and does a lot, but it’s also given me hope for a better relationship with him. We recently implemented a daily schedule which has had positive results, but over the past few days (seriously, this post is so timely) I have tried to not nag him so much about what he’s doing that he could be doing differently, but rather have tried to focus more on the positive things he does. Rather than see when he’s being unkind to his brother or not doing something I ask, I try to let it go and recognize when he is being kind or listening, and tell him that I appreciate it. The past two days he has asked if he can do the dishes (awesome, right?) and I’ve let him, without hovering over him and telling him how he can do them better. I’ve tried to smile and be more encouraging, and I tell you what, things have been significantly better with him, and with the family. Not always perfect, not at all, but I feel like making an effort to shift my focus has helped me to see things differently, and that has given me a more positive outlook on my son and on our family life as a whole, which I think has impacted their behavior in a positive way as well, helping them to feel more at ease.
I have a LONG way to go, but seeing those little differences and feeling them between us is so motivating. I used to think there was no hope for our relationship, we were destined to always be at odds, but I’m beginning to see that it doesn’t have to be that way, that there is potential there for the relationship I always wanted with my son.
Hang in there, friend. Keep trying. Every day is made up of thousands of little choices, and when I make the wrong ones (many, many times each day) I have to forgive myself, and remember to forgive my kids. I actually did google “why do I hate my child” or something like that not too many weeks ago, and now it makes me smile bc I know there is an alternative. It just had to start with me.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
So grateful for you taking the time to share so openly & honestly. There is so much HOPE in your story. It is bound to inspire many hearts today. It’s not too late. There is hope. Thank you.
Sandy Blackard says
I wrote a short post on this topic with a quick insight that might help some of your readers:
Thank you for sharing my work and Theresa’s. A number of readers have contacted me already. It’s exciting to be able to be of service.
I loved this. My oldest daughter is like Avery. And it’s exactly how I was as a child. But up until now I’ve never though about seeing the strengths in that personality type. I’ve worked hard to become an accomplisher instead of a dreamer. And now I look at my oldest (6 years old) and I see all the things I worked so hard to change about myself and it’s very frustrating for me. Since reading your posts I tell her to ‘hurry’ way less often. But I worry about the amount of homework she will have due to daydreaming at school. And I worry she will be picked on for crying too easily. And a thousand other little worries about her being too much like me. This post made me realize that I need to spend time focussing on the positives of our personalities rather than the so called ‘issues’ that come with it. So thank you for that. Because as I sit here writing this and think about her in this way, it’s a new revelation of how amazing she really is.
“I will study you. I will listen to you. I will watch your face when I use certain words or tones. What brings smiles? What brings pain? I will take note. I will use words that build you instead of break you. When I see that something I do makes you feel uncomfortable and rejected, I will remember and try not to do it anymore.” <—- THIS. I have seen my 5 year old's face grimace or fall when I use certain tones — it breaks my heart and I try to hard to remember, to stop, for just a moment before scolding. Why is it so hard to control the tone and words that come from our mouths? I'm working hard at this but I'm so far from being there. Some days are good, some a horrible.
I have been there too. I have learned that apologizing for my tone and negativity shows my two boys that we all mistakes. By apologizing, I am also teaching them to be responsible for their actions. Forgive yourself, move forward, and know that we all mistakes…remember it takes time to make new habits, at least you are trying and your son will see that too!
You are not alone. I am also trying to change and stop myself before scolding my kids. My son told me he fears me and it has not left my mind since. Still, I find myself losing patience with him. There is a voice within me that tells me not to do it but when am angry I push it back and refuse to listen. Sometimes I have asked myself how comes I cannot tell them such things in front of people, yet I can tell them when we are alone. I have wondered whether I fear people more than God who is ever present yet not visible. One thing I want to encourage us, let us never give up. One day at a time, one step at a time. We shall make it because where there is a will there is a way.
Oh my…. Was this just what the doctor ordered. My daughter and I have butted heads since she was born (5.5 years ago)- until last December when she learned that she and her older brother would have a new little girl to love and help take care of in the family. The change was INCREDIBLE. Literally from one day to the next, she was more relaxed, less sassy, calmer and more loving with me. She allowed ME to relax. Well, fast forward 9 months and a three month old baby, later. We are at each other’s throats again, like never before. The only difference now, is she has matured in a way to be able to express to me how “mean” I am, how “creepy” I look when I scold her and expressing her frustrations of “what came first? My anger or her sassiness?” It makes me cry because I just see her mirroring my behavior right back at me and the only thing I can clearly pinpoint is that it starts out the SAME way each time, each day. “HURRY UP!” I yell. “EAT!” “Take a Bite, FIONA.” Would it kill her if she never finishes her breakfast in the morning? Would it kill me to only give her two bites of cereal instead of a whole bowl? No. So why don’t I make the changes necessary to set us all up for success? She isn’t failing in the mornings… I am failing my children. I start their days with tears and then patch it up real quick with a pep talk in the car on the way to school. I drop them off PARANOID that I am conditioning my daughter to someday fall into that prototype, abusive relationship… anger-abuse-remorse-forgiveness. I need to let go of all these rules I have branded in my conscience (yes, conscience- how sad is that?) and rewrite my story to flow with my lively, smart, free-spirited, artistic, funny beautiful daughter. My fear is a much bigger beast than her simply becoming the type-A, drill sergeant her mother is…
Thank you for your continued inspirations, lessons and reminders.
A few years ago, God had me let go of the fights. It felt so scary. Discipline and expectations are so important. I felt that I would mess them up forever if I let go. But God showed me I had so much anger and woundedness tangled up with these areas, that I had to let go so He could untangle. The amazing thing in it is the blessing of watching children blossom in freedom, like watching my children who wouldn’t try anything eventually start saying can I try that, and I didn’t have to fight. Food and cleaning were my biggest fights. I had to completely stop requiring the room to be clean, because the yelling was so damaging. A month ago, God told me to start requiring them to clean their room again, fifteen minutes a day. They did it without complaining or screaming! At one point, I went in to tell a daughter her time was up, and she proudly showed me that she had spent her whole time folding some scarves that she planned to take outside immediately to play with. I was so disappointed. I didn’t scream and yell like in the past, but I told her I was disappointed because I meant the cleaning to be productive and to leave the room looking cleaner, which it didn’t, I told her that her spending all that time to fold things she planned to immediately unfold was discouraging to me. She wasn’t hurt. She only said, Oh, I didn’t understand. I won’t take them outside. I left, feeling that I shouldn’t have let my disappointment show. But when I went back in her room later, I discovered that not only did she put the scarves away, but she worked extra and got the floor looking clean. Reinstating the clean room after my break to untangle anger has not been all victories, but my relationship with the children is so much better, that we are all growing and not wilting in the process.
This is me. I am SO Type A, and my 7 year old daughter just isn’t. She’s very bright but chooses when she will put in effort on something, anything. She also has the biggest, kindest heart. She’s a leader with her peers but is the first to stand up for someone or reach out to a new classmate or someone who is isolated. I am so hard on her about school and homework because I get frustrated to see her “not living up to her potential”. And I am afraid I am breaking her. I have gotten a lot better over the past few years but this idea of seeing her for who she is, is so new to me. I never felt fully accepted by my Mother and desperately don’t want my beautiful girl to feel the same way. Thank you for much food for thought!!! (and some great ideas) I love the sharing and honesty here.
Again, I shed tears as I read your beautifully written words! I struggle with the same issues – I see more and more perfectionistic tendencies in my daughter and it scares me! I hope that she won’t be the anal, worry wart, perfectionist I am and strive not to be! I struggle and will continue to do so in hopes that she’ll grow into a better person than I am. Her lack of listening to me is driving me nuts now, but she listens well at school so I should be more grateful. Again, thanks for always reminding us and helping us focus on what’s truly important in being a parent!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your blog. This post really hit home for me and had me in tears. I’ve been reading your book and really trying to be a better mom. It is a constant struggle to be more patient and control my anger with my children. Just last night I got on to my daughter (7 years old) over the smallest mistake and only after she started crying did I realize that it really wasnt that big of a deal in the first place. I have a hard time finding the patience in the beginning instead of automatically getting frustrated and angry. How do you even start to correct those automatic reactions? I desperately want to be more gentle in my responses to my childrens mistakes.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Hi Michelle, I have a list of tips/strategies that I used to choose a more peaceful response with my loved ones. It also has some great book recommendations on this topic. Feel free to email me at email@example.com for this list. (And anyone else who is interested!)
Lori J says
I have been reading your post for a few months now and it makes me want to be a better mom to my 5 year old little girl. I have caught myself being more patient and not rushing her, even if we’re late.. I also have more awareness on not criticizing her and building her up. so Thank you for your posts, your honesty, your imperfetions.. you are helping parents everywhere..
This one knocked me out. I read you daily, but this one, I couldn’t leave without a comment. THANK YOU. Sharing. Especially this, this is what I need to do instead of what I do do. I grew up without physical affection from my mother, so I try to make up for it with my children, thinking they would want what I wanted — But we ‘re not all the same people, and so, this is what spoke to me here today: ” Allowing her to lean into me rather than force a full-on hug was love to this child.”
This post hit me in the gut, I’ve been struggling with these issues so much over the past 3 years. My 6yo DD is wonderful: creative, spirited, and exactly the opposite of me. She’s adopted, and has personality traits that remind me so much of her birth mother, the impulsivity, easy frustration, swings from the highest highs to the lowest lows triggered by minor events, and the constant loudness, where I’m very soft-spoken and laid back. I love her with all my heart, she is fully mine, but seeing these traits is a constant reminder that she was once part of someone else and carries someone else’s genes, and it’s so hard to accept those parts of her without trying to make her more like myself. I struggle with it every day, to love her for exactly who she is and not blame her for just being herself.
Oh yes. You are not alone. I can relate to much of what you wrote here. My three kids were all adopted. I only struggle to like and understand one, though. It is so incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking. I commented above explaining my shame and sadness about this. Good luck to you! When I read blog posts like this I feel hope that things can be better and support that I’m not the only parent that struggles to love. When there are attachment issues from adoption it’s certainly much, much harder. But I believe in you, me, and our precious kiddos.
Amanda S. says
I felt the same way! Our son is adopted, too; he’s more like me (ADHD, extroverted, impulsive, creative, rebellious, but also very sensitive) than like my husband. This article was very meaningful to me. Thank you again, Rachel! I am so grateful for your writings.
What you wrote here today is Gold.
I have two children- a daughter who is 5, and a son who is 9.
My daughter is an artist, and a happy-go-lucky, bright light. I’m more inspired than ever to sit down with her to draw together, because this is love to her.
My son is a perfectionist, like me, and a voracious reader and sports enthusiast. I’m inspired to let him tell me his whole dream without interrupting to say that it’s late and he needs to be moving while talking or else he’ll be late to school, because this is love to him.
Thank you, Rachel xoxo
Wow, Rachel. Just wow. So many hits here, I don’t even know where to begin. The dressing room..the Ode to living by your daughters’ book(s). You see, I also experienced the “dressing room” just recently. It was the most amazing shop. Quite expensive, but one thing struck me. There were several little encouraging notes around the place – ESPECIALLY the dressing room. As my 13 year old daughter was trying on dresses that I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to buy, she let out a sigh of relief. As my curiosity piqued, she flipped a sign that was tacked to the mirror. It said something, like, “You are beautiful, unique, and fearfully and wonderfully made.” She continued to try on dresses and I took pics with my phone as she modeled them. For about an hour, those dresses were “hers”. It felt pretty good. The best part? I didn’t rush her. It does make a difference. Keep on writing, Rachel. You’re making a difference. Bless you.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
This gives me goosebumps and happy tears. I love your story! Thank you for sharing this & encouraging me. Bless you too!
A friend of mine shared this on her Facebook page and I’m glad she did. I learned what you wrote here a few years ago. My daughter’s sound exactly like yours. My youngest is very different from her older sister, my husband, and I, who are all Type A personalities. One day we were eating ice cream and it must have been warm because (while it was in a bowl) it was melting. I cannot remember the reasons behind it but my youngest’s was literally turning into soup and the rest of us were yelling, “It’s melting, hurry up. What are you doing? Stop playing with it” in unison. Then, this beautiful child looked at me with her eyes brimming with tears and I realized that of course it was turning into soup, SHE liked it that way and what did it matter to the rest of us if she has ice cream soup for dessert? We were eating it the way we liked it, let her eat it the way she does. It was a clear message that I needed to stop trying to fit this square peg into my round hole. It was such a lightbulb moment, you’ve figure it out so you know. I like how you phrased it, love your child by her book. It’s so true and so important!
Pure love is here. From the parents who think they have done damage to the ones who have seen positive changes in their parenting! It is all about love of ourselves, our children, and family/friends. Each day is a new day to be kinder to ourselves and the people around us. We do not know when it might be our last or the last one of a dear person in our lives. Keep on loving, keep on trying, and know that you are not alone on this journey to being a better person. Thank you Rachel, for starting this Hands Free Revolution!
I’m locked in a room being a human pacifier for my young daughter, crying as I read this, my four year old son in the other room left to his own devices. Again. Safe, but no less alone. I already feel like I don’t know how he needs to be loved and since my daughter has been born I feel like her basic needs are taking over. Putting her to sleep, feeding, changing. The poor kid just gets lost in my sleep deprived shuffle. Thanks for this post. I will try harder.
Rachel, I just had to comment that after reading just the first few paragraphs of this post I was like “well duh, she shows her love by letting her daughter do the teaching thing even though it made her nervous, and by doing the nightly talk time.” Frequent readers of your blog know that you do a tremendous job of loving BOTH of your children the way they are. I think that comment was mean-spirited and meant to hurt. It’s great how you turned it something so negative into a beautiful post, but please know that the person who wrote that comment does not represent most of us out here!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Karoline. Believe me, whenever I read a harsh comment, I ALWAYS read a couple positive ones. I have a file of positive emails from readers that I read and re-read on hard days. The support I receive from this community helps me share my heart every single week. I am grateful for you!
So many times I read your blog and I feel like we live parallel lives. Everything from having 2 daughters with similar dispositions to your move to my desire to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. Thank you for sharing your journey and helping me to be a better mom, wife and friend.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. You are AMAZING. You speak to my heart and I see SO many things I do horribly and I am ashamed. But, I’m slowly getting it. And every single time you post something, it’s like you are writing it to me personally. And I am changing, a little bit at a time.
Laura fraser says
I love this post and am inspired by your grace in the way you pause to see the heart of a potentially reaction sparring question. May all our children delight in themselves. Truly blessed x laura
As the mom of 2 young girls 4& 6 . I feel like you are writing to me . Thank you for sharing your story . I feel lifted to try & love my girls by their book..
thanks for an inspiring story and your honesty. I love your how to’s
Hershey J says
Your website and your writings have been a wonderful discovery. Parenting is indeed a learning experience. Our children teach us more about ourselves than we want to and sometimes it wakes us up. Parenting also needs a lot of growing up, for parents. It is so difficult to let go of our children to become their own selves even if we want them to conform to our own busy hurried and routine worlds. My daughter Yumi will always be the beautiful reason for me to want to become better. It’s a hard challenge to let go of what we think our children should be and Let them be. Thank you for being an inspiration and a lovely reminder that we owe our children our best selves. I love how you wrote “She loved herself because I loved her”. My daughter thanks you in advance for teaching her Mommy how to love her more 🙂
Just today, Rachel, I was considering how I could better let my love through to my boy. It would mean going against the grain of my family because he is sensitive and needs hugs when they think I should “toughen him up”. He cries easily and wants to talk when they think he should “buck up”. My parents aren’t horrible by any means, they just fear he’ll be too soft for the world and it will eat him alive. After giving this some thought (years of it) I decided today to watch his face more closely and hug him when he wants a hug, listen when he’s upset and give softness to his soft heart. Then I came home and read your article. Your words regularly shine into my life and the life of my family. Often I have tears dripping from my elbow by the time I reach the second paragraph of one of your writings. Thank You for giving some of us sensitive, yet driven die hards, a message of love that is so easily integrated into living. So true and open. It can’t be easy to be heard by so many. Your bravery makes a difference.
Carolyn Bramlett says
Reading your posts makes me feel like I’m having a cup of tea with a very dear friend. You fill me with inspiration and with gratitude for this incredible, amazing, and sometimes challenging journey called motherhood. Thank you! Bless you.
Stephanie Dreyer says
I just want to say thank you for this post. I have been struggling with connection with my oldest daughter who is type A like me. I worry how I have affected her and feel so guilty. Thank you so much for this post.
Nothing I say will be any different from all the other thank you comments about your posts, having two daughters 10 and 5, I too relate, see myself in your shoes (or you in my shoes?!), have aaaah… moments while reading, choke up and try to swallow, and wipe the tears in a way my colleagues dont see (yes, I read your posts at work!) and I pledge and promise….
But I am writing to let you know that you have followers from IRAN in middle east. Yes, I am too far, but feel so close and that is only because of the warmth of your blessed heart and the power lying in your words.
My dear Rachel, the revolution wave you have started has reached this far. I share your posts with a bunch of friends here and we are all grateful for stumbling over your blog. Keep up this wonderful work, and thank you for sharing.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Heidi, for letting me know you are walking beside from Iran. This is truly a miracle and a blessing to me. You have brought me to tears–the best kind of tears. Thank you, thank you for being here.
Thank you for all your beautiful reminders. I have copied the daily pledge and pinned it to the start of my phone. Its on the top and now I will see it everytime I think I need to make o phone call/text or get on social media. My oldest is alot like yours in ways that he is just like me. Its hard to see those flaws you see in yourself as attributes in them. Thank you for helping me remember that we have to choose to make those flaws become attributes for ourselves.
As I read this, especially the last few paragraphs, my husband came to mind. I love my daughter, I compliment her, encouragement flows, and I take the time with her. With my husband? Not as much. The compliments are far less and his favorite hobby of watching football isn’t my thing. But how hard would it be for me to be gracious with my words and my occasional Saturday afternoon….not hard. Thanks for the reminder to love EVERYONE by their book. ☺
Beautiful post and beautiful blog. I have a sweet, sensitive 6 year old daughter and a wild, wide-open 3 year old son. My husband and I both work so our mornings do tend to be pretty hectic. We always try to keep the mornings positive because the thought of sending them to school after a rough morning at home would definitely not work for me! However, I do often find myself telling them to hurry up. They would take an hour to eat breakfast if I let them. I don’t feel like I get any resistance from them when I remind them that we are on a schedule and they need to eat, get dressed, get their teeth and hair brushed, get shoes on, get packed up for school. (We have a list of everything they need to do in the morning.) As long as I feel I give them enough time to get these things accomplished, and as long as they aren’t upset when I ask, is it so bad to ask them to hurry? Maybe I shouldn’t use that word but something else like “Remember, we are on a schedule. 5 more minutes until breakfast is over!” or something? This is definitely not meant to go against what you are saying because I think your blog is outstanding. Just honestly asking for feedback. Thank you!
This is what I am working on.
I was right that you know, and now I am learning, too.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And a note to other readers: give yourself grace when you make a mistake. I think we tend to see our flaws magnified and miss out on our magnificence.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for inspiring me to share this story, Jennifer. The response I’ve received indicates this was needed message. I am so glad we can all learn together.
Caroline McGraw says
I love it, Rachel! Well done, dear friend – you inspire me. xo
Dear Rachel, I started reading your posts about a year ago and every time you post, you explain a part of me that I wasn’t able to explain before. Thank you. As a daughter and a mother you are helping me navigate my past and future, how to start over the next day & try again, how to learn about my boys needs, and how to forgive myself (that is the toughest one). My girlfriend and I talk about your posts all the time and we often “share” the other’s post on facebook. She actually was reading out loud your “Firefly” the other night and we were both almost in tears. Thank you for putting out there so clearly what I cannot clearly state myself. Thank you for helping me be a better mother, wife, person. Thank you for helping me love/care/support my children, husband and myself better each day. Thank you. Ps, I think you should put out one of those flip desk calenders with a quote for each day…I know I could use it!
Julia Kurskaya says
“To those experiencing disconnection with someone they love…”, oh, Rachel, I didn’t realize it until lately, but this means – TO ME, I read these lines and they were about me and my husband! It was a little miracle for me to find these words in your post today. I couldn’t fall asleep tonight, so I started to think about my family. We are three: my husband, me, our daughter. We love each other, we are happy to have each other. I feel so connected with my daughter and – hard to say that, not so connected with my husband! (I remember some of your posts about Dads, they were absolutely inspiring to me). I felt I could work on this connection. I felt I needed to do something about it. I thought I don’t know where to start. So I get up today and read these lines… I’m at a loss for words. You wrote it for ME!
You see, my daughter always needed my attention. She asked for it, she demanded for it, she got it, and we were happy. Two of us, that is. I’m so glad to know my daughter and to love her “as is”. I always thought her needs come first, well, she is only 2, 3, and now 4 years old! And today I thought – what am I doing? There’s one more person in my family that I need to get connected to! And now I know exactly what to do: I will study you, I will listen to you. I want to love you by your book, my dear husband!
I love your posts as well as your book. I have “There will come a day” on my refrigerator to remind myself to slow down and listen while I struggle with taking care of 4 littles ones all 6 and under while my task oriented, efficient, perfectionist, crazy mind is always off to the next 500 items to accomplish. This post is amazing and will also have to go up on the fridge for a reminder! Thank you so much for your inspiration! You have truly inspired me to become a better mom each and every day through your words. I have never felt compelled to take the time to comment but this one really is going to change my interactions with each of my children today!
One of the hardest things about being a parent is accepting your child(ren) for who they are, rather than what you think they should be. Love reading your posts.
Sheryl C.S. Johnson says
I have been thinking so many similar things to this article lately, but they’ve been jumbled, hinting thoughts. I love the way you’ve laid out the subject. It is exactly what I needed to help me with my eldest daughter. I was that mom and so worried that I’d damaged her because I was so high strung when she was little. By the time I was better I was worried it was too late. Now she’s an over acheiver but I worry at how much stress she carries. This article helps me see that I can love her in a great many ways that will be so helpful. Loving on purpose and with style, what a concept.. I can’t wait to read through more of your site. I shared this post with over 3,000 Facebook fans and 700 Pinners today. Lucky them.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you so much for taking the time to share how my story touched you and also for sharing it with your community. I am grateful!
I love this post. I think this will work for husbands too.
Your Pledge made me cry.
We need to make this pledge to everyone important to us – our spouses, our best friend. …
And you know. .. that first kiddo is a huge learning curve. Your oldest is exactly like my oldest, except he is not an over achiever. We did 100 things wrong with him that we did not repeat with our younger 2. It can be useful. Its never too late to undo “damage” – your pledge is the perfect way to start.
This encouraged me so much. I’ve been praying a lot for my 4year old girl and I can see when I hurt her through my actions because she is a lovely open girl and I want to put her in a box. … scary thought. .. I didn’t know how to love her the way she is. Thanks for your faithfulness. Have to make it my own!
[…] http://www.handsfreemama.com/2014/09/23/to-love-a-child-by-their-book/ […]
[…] Another BEAUTIFUL blog post from Rachel of Hands free Mama. This one really spoke to me and made me think a lot about how we […]
[…] To Love a Child By Their Book by Hands Free Mama. I love love love her blog. If you are a mother especially….READ HER BLOG. I cannot say enough good things about it! Every post is so inspirational and I pull something to use in my own life every single time I read a new post. This post was all about just learning to love your child exactly as they are instead of trying to change certain things about them. I’ll let the post speak for itself but….read it. […]
[…] Mamma: To Love a Child By Their Book (The Daily Pledge at the bottom is pretty […]
[…] Love You by Your Book: A Daily Pledge (Hands Free Mama….Click on this for the whole great […]
[…] To Love a Child By Their Book – handsfreemama.com […]
[…] excerpt from a very beautiful post from Hands Free Mama (full post at […]