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Bring Back the Joy

by Jeri Carr

As an insecure mom of a rambunctious four year old who is growing up too fast for my liking, I regretfully find it far too easy to dwell on her negative behaviors. I worry about her sassiness. I worry that she seems to want more and more and more. I worry that she sometimes does exactly the opposite of what I ask her to do.

But wait a minute. . . lately with all my fussing and fuming about how disrespectfully she treats me and how she makes me feel so horrible when she puts her hands over her ears when I say something she doesn't like, I've been overlooking the joyfulness of parenting my daughter. I tell my daughter, "Treat others how you want to be treated," and yet I've been focusing on how frustrated she makes me feel (and clearly letting her know it) instead of trying to meet her needs and show her how much I love her. Wow, and to think she has been acting frustrated with me lately. Is there a connection here?

Tonight after my daughter and I laid down to read a bedtime story, she told me something that happened at the playground today. As she played with two other little girls, one of the little girls hit the other one. My daughter wanted to help her feel better, so she gave her lots of kisses. After she finished telling me what had happened, she asked if we could pray and then she bowed her head and prayed for the little girl who got hit and asked God to help her be okay.

Oh, wow. You know, come to think of it, my daughter has some wonderful traits. Of course I knew this all along, but when she shared what happened today, it reminded me that I am missing out on a lot of good stuff by dwelling on the negative. She does lots of great things. She likes to help others feel better. She comforts her baby brother when he cries and loves to play with him and make him laugh. She treats her kitty gently. She has a bright, cheerful (even if mischievous) smile. She likes to give lots of hugs. She is very good at finding things I've lost. I could go on and on and on.

How selfish I've been. I wish I could go back and change so many things, but we will march forward from here, and, thank goodness, my daughter is wonderfully forgiving. I'm sure she'll still have her sassy moments and will cover her ears and will say "no," but by trying to see what need she needs met instead of taking things so personally, and by focusing on the positive times, I know the joy will grow and our relationship will improve. And more importantly, my daughter will be assured that I always think she is wonderful and that she is loved deeply no matter how she acts.

This article was written about ten years ago. It's very interesting to be able to look back and read the words I wrote about my daughter and about our relationship so long ago. She is 14 now, and is a joy to be around. And she doesn't cover her ears and say "no" anymore. ;)


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