Getting to Know Your Children Without Snooping
When our kids were young, there were so many windows to perch from to marvel at who they were becoming. There were play dates and park benches. The tables around which we painted and made play-dough. The floors we sat on to read stories and engage in make-believe. Car rides in which anything and everything could (and did) happen. Today car rides are more likely to include other kids in the car pool and surreptitious texting. Most weeknight dinners are too rushed for relaxed and unobtrusive parental perching. And unless we are babysitting our cousins, our play-dough days seem to be over!
So, as they grow, we need to be much more creative and alert to catch the quick reflection of the evolving spirit of our children. If you want a good view, here are some of the places I have learned to look:
It is true that a lot of so-called creative writing in school is circumscribed by topic and rarely reveals your child’s inner soul. Nevertheless, as kids get older, their perspectives on their world, and the books they read, for example, can tell you a lot about how they think and what moves them.
The music they love
My son has recently become a fan of Ben Fold. He told me to listen to the words of his two favorite songs: Learn to Live With What You Are and Still Fighting It about a dad who doesn’t want his son to grow up…Need I say more?
The way they treat their team mates on the field
My kids have been frustrated by losing soccer games. They can mope with the best of them. But I have watched them when a team mate is beating himself up for his poor performance as they rally to his side, with respectful encouragement.
Their privacy requests
Around the time my older son turned 13, I learned to knock on the door before entering his room. So far, they have an open-door policy with me- except for the bathroom. That is strictly off-limits.
How are you learning about your children?
What do you do to walk the fine line between your children’s privacy, and knowing who they are and what’s happening in their lives?
Photo by matthewlees.
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