Mac Bledsoe's Parenting With Dignity program.
Shaping kids lives with love
By Mac Bledsoe
As we said in our last article of our
Newsletter, our "Parenting with Dignity" curriculum operates around one
basic and simple principle, which is that the ideas in your head will rule
your world. Therefore, we also believe the ideas in the heads of our
children will rule their world. We believe that the single most powerful
behavior-shaping tool at the disposal of parents is sending the constant
and continual message of unconditional love. Once children are confirmed
in the fact that they are loved and are thus significant beings in their
own minds, THEN, they are capable of making big decisions for themselves.
Loved and respected children are much more capable of
taking in important ideas to use in making decisions because those ideas
are less threatening to a secure person! The idea that rules their world
is, "I can make big decisions because I am a capable and important
In our course we have listed, quantified, and explained
ten ways to communicate love to children. All are important and can be
used in a myriad of your family situations. In today's discussion we will
focus on one method of effectively communicating love to your kids (or to
anyone for that matter), and that is WRITING.
WRITING TO KIDS
When parents love their children it is necessary to
communicate that love openly and honestly. Our children will not simply
know that they are loved by living in our homes and being in our presence.
We must express it often and in a variety of ways. One of the most
powerful ways to express love is through written words! Some magic things
happen when we write. Writing is very unique and extremely powerful in
shaping children's thought processes.
First, when we write to our children it is absolute and
positive proof that they were on our minds and in our hearts when they
were not physically present. If we write often, it is proof that they are
often on our minds. It does not need to be explained to them either; they
will be aware of it intuitively. Writing can't be denied. They may not
even agree with what you have written but they can't deny that you
wrote... it is tangible evidence of your love. The message does not have
to be about love to communicate love!
Next, when you write to
children you can be very careful and precise in what you say. I'm sure
that every parent has regretted something said in haste, anger, or
emotion. "I am going kill you!" (Oops!) But, once we have uttered the
words we can't get them back. When we write, we can
write, rewrite, and change the words until they accurately express
our true thoughts and feelings... before they are heard and before they
cause hurt. "I'm going to kill you," can become "I'm frustrated and angry
about what you did with your milk, so let's see what we can do to prevent
that from happening again." Writing allows clarity of thought that can
also allow us to speak precisely as a follow up.
Next, when we write it allows our children to listen to
us when they are ready. If we have learned anything in our years of
working with students, it is that most of the time when we are ready to
say something to a child it is not the time when they are ready or willing
to listen. This seems to become the case, more often, as the child gets
older, reaching its peak in the teen years. Also, the child's ability to
listen and focus on what we are saying seems to be exponentially
decreased, as the issue becomes more critical. All the more reason to
write and write carefully. They can then read what we have written at a
less emotionally charged time, thus increasing the chances of them
actually hearing and using what we are trying to say or teach.
Next, when we write it says the same thing today, that
it says tomorrow, that it says next week, that it says next year, that it
says ten years from now. If you want some degree of
immortality in the lives of your children, just write often to
them. My Dad has been dead for 10 years but he still speaks to me because
he wrote. My grandfather has been dead for 13 years and he too speaks
forcefully and often to me because he wrote often to us grandkids.
Don't wait until crisis or misunderstanding to write,
AND DON'T EVER BELIEVE THAT THE ONLY WAY TO SHOW LOVE IN WRITING IS BY
WRITING ABOUT LOVE. One of the most loving things a parent can do for a
child is to write down exactly what they believe about important
issues such as spirituality, honesty, family, friendship and such. Grand
Dad used to write little sayings like "Nobody can make you feel inferior
without your consent," or "Happiness is an attitude of choice; you're
going to be about as happy as you choose to be." Often they were not even
original (the first of those two I later found out was first written by
Eleanor Roosevelt) but Granddad thought it was important for me to have
it, so he wrote it down and gave it to me. Most of his little sayings have
changed my life by becoming some of the critical ideas that have ruled my
He could not have done a more loving thing for me. One
time before he came for a visit he had heard that I was going to a dance
and this is what he wrote to me: "Kid, when you ask a girl to dance and
she turns you down, don't get mad or hurt. Smile back at her and say
'thank you.' Then, as you are walking away say quietly to yourself 'thanks
for helping me thin the herd! Thanks for not letting me waste another
minute on someone who's not interested!' " Great advice and what a loving
thing to give to a child who you love.
Finally, when you take the time to write to your kids it
will come back to you many times over. Your kids will begin to write back
to you. Be sure to model what to do with the writings by keeping yours in
a safe and private place. Then your kids will do the same with what you
have written to them. This insures the maximum chance of the ideas you
share becoming some of the key ideas to rule their world.
Finally, one caution, be careful what you write because
writing often has a permanent influence on children.
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