We’re one week into our new approach to applying our new ‘love in action’ approach within our family. We’re on a journey with this approach – we are not there yet, but at least we have started the trip.
For those who didn’t read last week’s post, in essence it comes down to three areas where we agree we need to improve:
- Concentrating on actions and tasks we have committed to, or which contribute to helping the family ‘work’
- Starting and focusing on completing each task*
- Not getting discouraged (and if we do, picking ourselves up and keeping going)
- Not distracting or teasing each other when we are doing what we need to do.
- Being interested and caring for each other by
- listening and asking questions, rather than pretending while doing something else, or interrupting to tell our own story
- taking care of ours, and others in our family’s, possessions and special items (and not losing them, failing to put them away, or breaking other peoples through carelessness).
- Respecting each other’s need for our own time and space:
- either by ourselves, or
- one on one.
This approach has not been easy, and we have fallen down many times.
I am the first to admit I am finding it pretty hard. I still find it easier to step in and do the cleaning up, get the beds made, rather than going through the anguish of cajoling. I don’t like feeling like the bad guy, and I cave in when I feel like I am in the role for too long. And I caved in a few times this week.
But, throughout, a sentence from a podcast I’d been listening to kept running through my mind.
The line I kept hearing over and over was this:
We not only care for our children because we love them;
We love them BECAUSE we care for them.
That line is amazing to me – we love them BECAUSE we care for them.
There is something about the process of caring that helps us to grow closer to those who we care for.
Caring isn’t all fun and games and cuddles when the kids hurt themselves. No, not even if they are bitten on the finger by a dog as my daughter was last week (and yes, she is fine, and no, it wasn’t our dog). Caring also involves helping our kids grow into capable, caring adults. It therefore involves the tough yards of teaching them discipline, focus, respect and consideration for others.
And it might mean being the bad guy – not the cruel guy – but the bad guy.
Caring for them might therefore involve some discomfort – not only for them, but for me too. Of course, for my husband as well – but he has more readily accepted that this is part of the responsibility of being a parent than I have. I’ve always disliked this aspect, but I’m growing to accept that it is a fundamental part of good parenting.
As a result, I continue to pick myself up and keep going with this new approach.
And as a result, I am seeing a new side to my kids. I thought I knew them well already, but I am gaining more understanding of
- what makes them tick,
- why some things are trickier for them, or
- met with more resistance or done less consistently, than others.
Sometimes I can make suggestions, or we can work through a solution together. But I don’t need to step in and do it for them. They are learning and growing as a result of doing things that are challenging.
Seeing this side of them – caring enough to let them try, fail, get angry, and ultimately try again – is an important part of loving them even more.
And, in turn, this process has already provided some opportunity (and hopefully a lot more) to focus on the flip side of caring – as well as ‘the basics of love, consideration and attention’, the opportunity to ‘add something to my interactions with each member of my family that helps our relationship thrive’. Maxabella Loveswrote so beautifully about this today. And this thriving is what we are aiming for.
How has life been for you lately?
Have you needed to put in the hard yards, in a relationship or in another situation?
And how are you tracking?
* This applies to me too – I have a bad habit of multi-tasking, which not only means half listening to what my husband or kids are saying while I do something else, or otherwise walking off with a job half completed. So, so hard to change, so I empathise with my kids. But still …