Today we are diving into Chapters Three and Four. If you are just picking up this book from your bookstore or library, there are back posts on the Preface and on Chapters One and Two.
“Negativity is so common that it seems normal in our culture. Like pollution, it creeps into our homes and under our skin.” – Author Dr. Louise Hart, Chapter 3.
I love this chapter, entitled, “Self- Esteem Protection Skills,” because it reinforces the rather constant battle I personally have with capturing negative thoughts or words or self-doubt myself, and also the outside exposure our children get regarding negative messages just from our culture. This chapter points out that our self-esteem needs protection from all of these toxic things, and if we protect and nurture our children’s self-esteem, (I like the term self-confidence a lot and tend to use these two terms interchangeably as I read this book), then we end up spending less time putting ourselves back together after toxic events or emotions and can teach our chidren to do that, instead of learning adverse self-soothing behaviors such as using alcohol or drugs or food or avoidance.
Over two pages of strategies are listed in this chapter for dealing with negativity and toxicity. I think what I am going to do is paint a little spot on our wall for “health and wellness” and go through some of these strategies each week with our children, who are now all (close to! next month!) nine and up. I feel nine is an age to start learning some of these strategies for life, and some of the strategies are ones that children aged nine could certainly learn and use, because they involve setting clear boundaries.
Chapter Four, entitled, “I Know They Love Me, But I Don’t Feel It,” and talks about the two parts to communicating: to send the message and to have the message received. Many of us “knew” we were loved by our parents but many of us also didn’t really “feel” we were loved. Loving a child does not necessarily mean the child feels loved. There was a passage about fathers in this chapter, and how many fathers never felt loved themselves and worked long hours and had little contact with their children. I think this has improved since the time this book was published, but it brings up the point of what did we want from our own parents, and did we get?
This chapter also brings up an entire list of what does not communicate love, which includes a lack of boundaries and overpermissiveness, martyrdom, overprotection, material possessions, quantity time but without quality, and conditions.
So what communicates love to a child? Memories built on fun!, being with our children not just in the times when we have to do something for them, taking them seriously, really listening, using positive words and respect.
There is a wonderful exercise in the chapter to list twenty things that you love to do and note when you last did them and every day try to do one of these things. As you take care of yourself, then you can take amazing care of your children. If you do something you love this week and follow me on IG, please take a pic and use the hashtags #theparentingpassageway #winningfamily so we can all encourage each other!
Blessings and love,