Welcome to the Tales of a Kitchen Witch Blog.
I have a bunch of littles (sometimes it feels like fifty but really it is just three) and one daughter firmly entrenched in her teen years. So many blogs are devoted to parenting a young child; I thought it might be a refreshing change to address what it is like to be an attachment parent with a teenager.
Whenever I post something thoughtful or awesome that Hannah has said or done (like Sunday, when she got out the laptop and put together a quiche to surprise me with dinner while I put Cooper down for a nap, or the time she wrote this letter) it results in several people asking me what it is that we did to get such an amazing kid. It isn’t one particular thing. In fact, I think its two parts her awesomeness by nature and one part how we work as a family. Do we fight and yell at each other? To be honest, yeah. I wish it was not the case, but we do have our yelling matches. My mom was a yeller, and my natural reaction is to yell when I get overwhelmed or aggravated. I’m working on it, and I’m getting better at taking a breath and a moment to calm down before I flip out. It helps that Hannah sounds exactly like me- sometimes half way through an argument we fall into giggles because it sounds like one person arguing back and forth.
But we also talk. A LOT. Our kids aren’t just our kids. They’re people and we treat them as such. There is a ton of “it bothers me when you do A, B, C,” and “it hurt my feelings when” and “I feel blah blah when” going on around here. When I screw up or make a bad decision, I talk about what happened and why. We talk about how we feel, what we’re thinking, all day long. Hannah is a person with valid opinions and reasons for her actions, and we talk about the choices she has and what she could do with them. When I’m upset with her, I explain why and when she is upset with me she does the same.
If I had to give advice on how to raise a thoughtful and kind person, I would say…
1) Listen to your kid. Actively listen. Don’t just nod your head and make agreeable noises, but hear them. Last night Hannah and I stayed up until two in the morning talking. I needed sleep, and so did she, but it was more important that we spent some time together. Listening is imperative.
2) Own up to your mistakes. Your kids will learn more from you admitting you screwed up and then seeing you try to fix it than thinking they have a perfect parent.
3) Explain why you set a boundary or rule in place. We have very few rules in our home, and Hannah understands why each one exists.
4) Nurture honesty. My kids know that if they have screwed up big time they just have to tell us- and we’ll help them fix it, whatever it is.
Is there a recipe for producing the perfect child? Of course not, but the way we choose to interact with our children sets up the way they treat others and how they feel about themselves. I would love it if she wouldn’t nitpick at her brother so much, or if she could do the dishes the first time I ask or even just remember to take the dog out more often… But the flip side is that I have a daughter that is strong, thoughtful, compassionate, talented and kind. She is articulate, funny, and a fierce protector of her siblings. She stands up for what she thinks is right and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is beyond awesome.