Sunday, November 9, 2014

Turning My Back On My Kids

I turn away from my kids on a regular basis. And it facilitates great communication.

Before you Mom-shame me for this behavior, let me explain.

Our 13-year-old daughter will talk to us about nearly any subject, any time, at any length. (Case in point, she literally JUST asked me if she’s talking too much right now.)

While I’m thankful that she talks to me so easily, our 11-year-old son is a bit more reticent. With both kids – and especially my son – sometimes the more difficult subjects are better conquered when we’re not face-to-face.

For us, the best talks often come when we’re in the car and they're seated behind or beside me. Of course, I can’t take credit for this idea – I read this advice many years ago. But there are many other situations where we can communicate with our children and teens in a non-threatening way.

At our house, the kitchen is great place for us to share what’s happening in our lives. While we work side-by-side (or as I cook and they do homework), I’m often amazed at all the different things we talk about. And I’m fairly certain that we’re digging in much deeper to these important topics than if our chats had a forced feeling about them.

If you’re looking for new ideas to connect with your kids, here are a few activities that could lend themselves to relaxed interactions:
• Shooting hoops or going for a bike ride
• Cooking dinner for your family – or for an elderly neighbor
• Volunteering with a group like Habitat for Humanity
• Grocery shopping or picking up supplies from the hardware store
• Walking the dog or hiking some trails

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This or That

It’s definitely an ego boost to be aggressively recruited for not one – but two – great opportunities.

Within the last 10 days, I’ve experienced this and feel blessed to have been contacted (out of the blue) for jobs that I would definitely enjoy. And one of them would nearly double our family’s income.

All in the family
Although we don’t put the pressure of making big decisions on our kids, we do keep them in the loop about life changes that could affect them. So while I was cooking dinner the other night, I tossed out this latest possibility.

I explained that while we’re fine in our current situation, if I went back to work full-time, we could enjoy some extras – like eating out, replacing our worn-out carpet and going on vacations. In the past few years, we haven’t even gone on a weekend getaway.

Immediately, our 11-year-old son said that he likes things just the way they are. Our 13-year-old daughter quickly agreed. (How weird is that? Siblings agreeing on something!)
Keep in mind that these are the same kids who get annoyed when I remind them about homework assignments and ask them to do basic chores around the house.

Our son, in particular, gets frustrated when I ask about his day at school. When he gets in the car, he is often grumpy and uncommunicative. Yet, he was the first one to say he wanted me to continue picking him up from school, dropping him off and generally just being there when he needs me.

So, while my daughter immediately shares all about her day – the good, the bad and the ugly – my son takes time to thaw. He eventually begins peeling away the layers of his day, which leads to relationship-strengthening communication. His personality requires unrushed time before he’ll tell me about his concerns and triumphs.

Making a list – and checking it twice
Of course my husband and I have discussed this in detail. And, as I typically do, I created a pros and cons spreadsheet. As I made the list, I pictured myself wearing heels and make-up again, taking in the magic of a Disney vacation, sitting on furniture that isn’t threadbare and updating our landscape.

And then my mind came back around to this moment in time. This moment in which my tween and teen said they need me. Suddenly my decision became crystal clear.