The first is this: no matter what be sure your child knows you absolutely, unconditionally love him or her. Ask yourself, when you were a child, did you go to sleep knowing you were absolutely, unconditionally loved? If you did, you are blessed. Remember how that felt and pass that gift to your child.
If you didn’t have that experience, you know what it is like to lie in bed wondering, “Does Mommy really love me?” or “Will Daddy forgive me?”. You know the insecurity of not being sure of love, of believing you had to somehow earn love or pay a price for your parents love. Remember how that felt and behave differently with your children.
Keep loving them well, obviously and truly even when they are acting in the least loveable ways. This is when they need to be sure of your love most of all.
The second piece of advice is this: follow your child’s fascinations even when they are not your own. I learned this from my son with autism. He was diagnosed when he was five-years-old and I did what I felt I had to do. I pulled him out of public school in the beginning of first grade until they could get an appropriate program together for him. Until then, I decided I would homeschool him.
Or maybe it was he who decided to homeschool me.
My son has autism and is very bright. We filled his day with lots of lessons for him and even more for me. I had never studied a subject – my child and who he is was from moment to moment to moment – with such dogged attention.
I took my notebook along when we went to the park so that I could write. We baked a lot to get measuring, addition and subtraction math into our curriculum. He loved to put things in order, in lines, in arrangements with hoses and anything with water caught his attention. I took photos and cheered when he noticed a new water meter or an exceptionally exciting looking one. I was on water meter alert not because I had any interest in the subject but he did so therefore, I did, too.
This didn’t end when we stopped homeschooling.
Just a few weeks ago I discovered there was a WiiU Summer Tour event in Hollywood. I was there with my daughters. My middle daughter has a fascination for Taylor Swift so she and a friend enjoyed the concert while I spent one-on-one time with Katherine, my eldest, who was going back to Massachusetts for her senior year of college the next day.
It only had two more weeks to go so I made sure I knew which night was the least crowded and as soon as school was out the following Monday, we were on the road back to Hollywood. It’s about a two hour drive. Samuel played with the games for forty-five minutes and he was completely satisfied. I could have gotten frustrated with him for playing for such a short period of time. Instead, we took fun photos and went to dinner. Samuel and Emma were given special gifts for coming all the way from Bakersfield.
We laughed and told stories on the drive as well as made some new stories for the future.
Listen, please. Following your children’s or dear one’s fascination does not mean ditching your own.
It actually strengthens your own passion if you are aware and appreciative of others’ fascinations. Your children will learn to follow your lead and find more subjects interesting or at least acknowledge the power in giving others room to be who they are and like what they like and express that fascination freely knowing they will always love and be loved no matter what.
There is no better advice I am able to give.
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Julie Jordan Scott is a writer, performance poet, Mommy and mixed-media artist. Her word-love themed art will be for sale at First Friday each month in Downtown Bakersfield. Check out the links below to follow her on a bunch of different social media channels, especially if you find the idea of a Word-Love Party bus particularly enticing.
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