Holidays are great, but they are also hard. It feels sometimes like everyone's behaviour is under a microscope. And once that behaviour is being studied -- watch out that's when the labels get applied and when parenting anxieties can grow.
At a low point on our holiday at a relative's cottage last summer I grabbed a slightly browned copy of Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish off the shelves. I knew the authors from their other, better known books, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & LIsten So Kids Will Talk and also Siblings Without Rivalry. Their parenting style is rooted in a deep respect for the kids and for themselves. And while the language (and the title) is outdated the following excerpt struck a chord with me.
Check it out, it is worth a read.
The authors are talking about a time when they went to a Christmas party and someone asked about their kids, and instead of joking and typecasting their kids they avoided the topic.
What you're making jokes about is no laughing matter. Children see themselves primarily through their parents' eyes. They look to us to tell them not necessarily what they are, but what they're capable of becoming. They depend upon us for a larger vision of themselves, and for the tools to implement that vision.
I could have told them:
There is no such thing as a child who is "selfish". There's only a child who need to experience the joys of generosity.
There is not such thing as a child who "lazy". There's only a child who is unmotivated, who need someone to believe that he can work hard when he cares enough.
There is no such thing as a child who is "clumsy". There's only a child who needs to have is movements accepted and this body exercised.
Children - all children - need to have their best affirmed and their worst ignored or redirected.
Who will take this challenging job?
Who but a parent would be willing to make changes within himself so that in time his child might change?
Who but a parent has the largeness of spirit to tell the erring child, That was then. This is now. Let's begin again."