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Monday, June 1, 2009

Responding, Not Reacting

Today's guest post is from Susan from Bartlett.

“I don’t love you Mommy!”

I gasped, utterly stunned. I couldn’t believe my 4yr. old daughter had said that to me. It hurt. It stung.

For a split second I thought about me: I’m a failure. She hates me.

And then I noticed that she was intently staring at me, watching to see how I would respond. She was testing me; trying to get a reaction.

A couple responses played out in my mind: a stern look, a time-out, a spank. Instead, I got down on her level and said, “It hurts my feelings when you say you don’t love me, because I love you so very much. You are so special to me. And, in our family, we don’t talk to one another like that. Do you understand?”

She hugged me, and told me she understood, and that she did love me. Gratefully, this type of “I don’t love you” moment hasn’t happened again.

The evening before this encounter with my daughter, I had finished reading chapter one of “Bringing Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down” by Dr. Kevin Leman. One of the big takeaways from chapter one was to remember not to take a child’s misbehavior personally, and to remember that all behavior has a purpose. And, as a parent, you are to respond to a child, not react.
Wow, talk about a light bulb moment. Those words just jumped off of the page. I have a high-maintenance, strong-willed child, and parenting her is an on-going challenge. Not take child-parent interactions personally, and there actually might be a reason behind my child’s misbehavior? Okay, this is good information.
If you haven’t read any of Dr. Kevin Leman’s books consider checking him out. His writings are Christian-based, ultra-practical, and down-to-earth.

And, for those moms that have heard their child utter those ugly “I don’t love you” words, remember that they do love you. They do. They really, really do.


Atwood-Family of 4 June 2, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

Thank you for this has been a teary afternoon at my house-me not my 3 year old daughter-and I needed to hear that other mamas have parenting challenges too. I'm going to check that book out now. Thanks.

Heather June 3, 2009 at 10:04 PM  

Oh, I can so relate! I regularly get told by 4 year old that my best friend is better then me and that she likes other people better then me.

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