How much do you look into your children’s eyes? No, not just glance their way, but actually look deeply into your son’s or daughter’s eyes while talking to them?
It seems an odd question, perhaps, but start looking around. Start noticing the interactions of individuals around you. For example, the next time you are in a restaurant watch the people near you.
In fact, the next time you are speaking to your own children, notice where your eyes are. Do you ever look longer than a second or two in your child’s direction? Or are you generally focused on the task at hand?
When I read some time ago that most parents gaze past their children in interactions, I decided to start noticing my own activities with my children. What disturbed me is that the study I’d read about actually occurred in my own home! I saw my husband doing it; I found myself doing it. We might “act” like we were listening, but so often we were focusing on something else.
Don’t get me wrong; we’ve had many fun times as a family. But I don’t want to stop on some plateau. I want to strengthen, daily, my relationships with my children. I want to be aware of their needs. I want to be the mother God intends me to be. Thus, I’m always on the lookout for skills, strengths and approaches that can make me a better mother.
Thus, after reading the study years ago, I began watching myself closely. Oh, it took some time to change – for you know what they say – old habits die hard. But I’m glad to announce that I do a better job than I’ve done in the past.
Here is what I’ve learned. For example, if one of my children approaches me to talk with me – yet I’m struggling with a tight deadline on a project or Sunday School lesson, etc. – if I actually leave what I’m doing and go sit with them to listen, the time they need from me is actually less.
I find that I look them straight in the eye and listen better. They are like little flowers receiving a refreshing rain. Their emotional “turgidity” is strengthened and very quickly, their needs have been met and they run off to play.
If I don’t use this approach, and I try to do my job while pretending to attend to their needs, they linger and linger and linger…continuing to ask me questions.
Children have needs. So do we as adults. Regardless of our needs (and it is important we meet those too), the Lord’s expects that we attend to our children’s needs. No one else is in the same position to do so as well, nor would another person be expected to.
Like it or not, young people need the adults in their lives. Therefore, the more we look our young family members in the eye while they share their day, their question, or their concern with us, the more they are “fed” and are able to experience positive growth. This is what we want after all, isn’t it?
As I’ve increased taking the time to look directly in my children’s eyes when they speak to me – and sustain that look – I’ve noticed with ever-deepening appreciation each child’s unique beauty and value. Joy fills me as I take time for them. You’ve probably already beaten me to this knowledge, but if not, try it! You’ll not only find yourself chuckling and enjoying each child more, but you just might be amazed how awesome each one is – even those who at times aggravate you.