Note from Toni: Today we have another post from Lexi Lamb, regular contributor at Small Key Big Door. Lexi is a writer and single mom to two boys ages 6 and 10. If you missed her previous contributions, you can find the links to those at the bottom of this post.
Tonight my iPhone decided to put me under house arrest without my permission. It went black, denied me my right to phone calls and text messages, and basically made it impossible to keep me in touch with my life outside of my home. I depend on my phone to keep me in touch with my friends and family, probably too much.
It was young and made promises to me. It promised phone calls to anyone as long as I kept it charged. I depended on it to text message everyone instead of having real conversations (oops, did I say that out loud?) or to text during times we are not allowed to talk. It promised to provide me Google when my inquiring mind researched random dumb things on a daily basis. My phone also promised to keep my contacts in contact with me.
It broke all of its promises and left me, alone in the house unsupervised. I am desperately trying to substitute with my iPad and computer, but what they have to offer does not fulfill me. As far as an actual phone, well I am shit out of luck because I am one of the many home phone-less people in the world. When will my word return to normal iPhone…. WHEN?!?!?!
Yeah, the iPhone comparison is probably a little odd, but tonight it is all very true and it got me thinking; if my iPhone is a form of stability to me, imagine how my kids view me. I keep them safe, I make them laugh, I dress them, feed them, entertain them and love them like no one else in their life.
If they cannot depend on me for their needs, they will feel displaced and look to other people or things to fill what they have lost, stability. I am not saying they cannot survive without me, or that their dad or grandmother cannot provide for them, but it won’t be the same. They will feel lost and disappointed, confused how to function because all of my promises will no longer matter. Sure their dad and their grandmother provide other pieces of stability, but I am their iPhone.
People view stability different; some view stability as money, some view it as a family. The definition varies from person to person. Children look to their parents for stability (or their variation of the “parents” they were raised by). If we falter, we leave them feeling lost and empty. It may even send them looking for comfort in the wrong areas, or making bad decisions as an attempt to get the attention that they lost, or for some unfortunate children, never had.
Material things are not a form of stability…. Giving your child something just to make yourself feel better (yes I said to make YOU feel better), will backfire on you as your child gets old. I see so many parents who spend money on stupid toys, games, whatever, but yet they don’t spend what kids need… time.
When is the last time you talked to your child? I don’t mean tell them what to do, but asked them their thoughts on something that seems to be troubling them. Trying to view it from their eyes and not from what you think they see. Do it, you will be amazed what they will say and often their troubles are easier to solve, because you solve it using how they feel, not how you do. For example, if they are having trouble with a bully, do not tell them to tell the teacher, get to the root of the problem, why the child is bullying them, and give them a way to handle it on their own, you will empower your child and make them a stronger more stable person.
We, as parents are the backbone of life for our children. If you commit to having a baby, or becoming the guardian to that child, you must also commit to being their rock. You must let them make mistakes, but you must also be there to help them figure them out. Keep the promises you know a parent must do, promises that are selfless, giving and offer true love.
Remember that every decision you make and every word you speak shapes their lives. They watch you interact with people and will emulate you as they grow up. If you are in a good relationship, they will often choose healthy relationships. If you teach them that screaming or disrespect to the person you are with is OK, they will probably be in the same situation when they get older.
There is nothing more important to a child than feeling safe and loved. Familiar routines and rituals are comforting to children, from the small things like walking to a restaurant once a month, to your holiday traditions and vacations. Children are our future and every person who is raising a child, must step back, take a deep breath and know that they love you no matter what is stressing you out. Just remember to be patient and love your children back and keep their life simple, safe and stable.
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Check out Lexi’s other posts here at Small Key Big Door: