As part of trying to getting to the bottom of Daniel’s worries we were given a great tip: talking about their day.
I know, wait, don’t go yet, there’s more.
The trick is to get them to tell you one good and one bad thing about their day. We were doing the whole smug we-eat-dinner-around-the-table-as-a-family-thing each night and totally thought we knew what was happening in our kids’ lives.
Surprise!! We had no idea.
Initially it was tough going. They must have thought we were mad. What? You mean you want to know an actual thing from my day? Good AND Bad?
It’s 5 months later and they are telling us stories that make our jaws drop some nights. They are funny, they are honest. Sometimes they need a little prodding, but listening to their stories is like having the door open into their beautiful minds. They remind us over weekends, even if it’s late and we rush to get them to bed.
Some stories are like unravelling a terrible piece of crochet, you just keep pulling and pulling and eventually, if you’re lucky, you get to the end. Where the knot is. And then you unravel some more.
I keep reminding myself that if we don’t get into the habit of really REALLY taking the time listen to them actively now we may miss all the cues when they’re teenagers and grown-ups. Life is so crazy, we have to force ourselves to calm down to a mild panic and just BE with our kids.
I’m not telling you this because I’m any good at it, it’s a conscious effort I have to make every single day. To put my phone/iPad down. To look in their eyes. To listen. To take those last minutes to hug and kiss them for the 3rd and 4th time before they go to sleep if they need it.
I have realised that now is the time to parent gently, to let them make mistakes and not crowd them. We have to be their safe haven, not their judge and jury.
Who else will do it otherwise? It’s our sole purpose as parents.