Complaining… one of my many pet peeves… something that used to just turn me off, has suddenly been okay on my radar. When someone complained, it voiced blame instead of responsibility. And I hated it. I still don’t like it, but I had to accept it as part of raising two girls loaded with earfuls of complaints one after the other…. ” Ugh, we’re eating this again? There’s nothing to eat in this house!” to “My teacher is SO mean, mom or so and so is just weird!”…. Just to name a few.
Coming from living a pretty positive lifestyle (nobody’s perfect!) and cringing every time I heard a complaint, I realized that the conversations between my daughters and I were limited…. they weren’t telling me all they needed to share. Needed being the big word here. Being repulsed by their every complaint left me always rebutting with a positive note. “Well if you think there’s no food in the house, what about the starving kids in Africa? They would love a house full of the food we have!” or “If you say your teacher is mean, aren’t you being mean as well talking behind their backs. Maybe they were just having a bad day.” “You shouldn’t feel bad today, it’s a good day, the sun is shining and it’s Friday and….Blah, blah, blah, positive, positive, positive.! Exhausting for me to say and I’m sure exhausting for them to hear. Instead of listening to what they were voicing, I was trying to fix their thoughts. I was basically teaching them, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it all. Something we might have all preached at one time or another as a parent. Hmmm, not much left for conversation, huh? But hearing this simple line over and over with a rebut at the end of every comment was not sending the message I wanted my girls to have, and that was, good communication. I always prided myself since the girls were very young, that they could and should talk to me about anything they wanted to. I would always listen even if it was something they did wrong. This is what I would tell them, but modeling it was a different entity and I’m guessing I wasn’t very approachable. As I knew my girls would grow and as kids tend to veer away from their parents, I prayed for good communication between us. We all know how this goes…. pray for something and it just doesn’t magically appear… kind of like my “present of patience” blog. I had to earn their voice. If I couldn’t accept the negative they were saying, then I wasn’t accepting them and where they are right now in their life. I cannot hold expectations on them to always be positive and to look at things the way I do. After all, how many years did it take me to look at the world differently… and here I am still learning! And so, my ears hear differently now. When they say something negative, I listen to their message instead of hearing with an “I don’t wanna hear it” attitude. I want more than anything to have a good, honest, open relationship with both my girls and accepting what they feel is just as important to me than what they do. They feel what they feel, and who am I… mother or not, to judge them or change that feeling that’s theirs alone? Since this awakening moment, I cannot express the dramatic change, the shift that has made us enjoy our company together more. We still have boundaries of course with what’s not appropriate to say, but gosh… listening is so much easier than controlling!