The Mirror in a Parent’s Eye
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” That’s the question of fairy tales. In real life, children ask, “Mirror, mirror in your eyes, am I worthy of your love?” and “Mirror, mirror in your eyes, please accept me-call me fine?” Children do not look at a mirror on a wall to determine their worth, they look into their parents’ eyes. They find their worth, lovability, and acceptance in the image they see reflected back to them from their parents. The reflection they see of themselves in our eyes becomes their personal identity.
· Do your children look into your eyes and see disapproval and disregard more often than admiration? If so, they will come to believe they have no value, nothing to admire.
· Do your children feel disrespected and ignored by you more often than adored by you? If so, they will come to see themselves as disrespected and disrespectful.
· Do they see you avoid them or mock them more often than you praise them and compliment them? If so, they will come to see themselves as worthless.
· Do your children see you spend more time with Sunday afternoon football or the Sunday paper than you spend with them? If so, they will see themselves as second rate and unacceptable.
If we want our children to see themselves as acceptable, valuable, beautiful, or lovable, the first step is to assure them that we see and treat them as acceptable, valuable, beautiful, and lovable. When our children look into the mirrors of our eyes, they need to see us reflect back delight, acceptance, pride, and an abiding love. Are the mirrors of your eyes polished and clear? Do they reflect the image you want your child to become? Here are nine suggestions to help you reflect a healthy image to your child.
1. Reflect caring for yourself. Get enough rest and eat a healthy diet. Living a healthy lifestyle assures that you have the energy and strength to reflect a healthy image of your child.
2. Reflect delight for your child. Remember how you felt at the moment of your child’s birth? Remember the delight and awe you experienced as a new life, your child, entered into the world? Recall that emotion and delight. Think about how much your child means to you. Consider the strengths and talents they possess. Allow yourself to remain awed at their life and abilities.
3. Reflect interest in your child. When they come home from school, look up from the computer and greet them. Ask about their day. Let them see the sparkle of delight in your eyes as they tell you about their day.
4. Reflect pride in your child. Compliment them on a job well-done. Acknowledge their courage when they behave well in spite of peer pressure. Recognize the times that they obey you, especially when they disagree with the rule (such as curfew or “lights out”). Admire their character every chance you get.
5. Reflect respect for your child. Make requests that include “please.” Offer a “thank you” when they complete a chore or get something you ask them to get. Remember to say “you’re welcome” when they express thanks to you. Open doors and let your children go through first. Listen respectfully. Speak graciously.
6. Reflect value for your child. Keep your promises. Let your child know that you value them enough to give them your time and attention. Pick them up without complaining after they spend time at a friend’s home. Have their friends over to your house and give them a snack.
7. Reflect admiration for your child. Verbally express your love for your child. Say “I love you” sincerely and often. Admire your child’s beauty. Let them know that you believe they are attractive and point out one or two features you find most attractive.
8. Reflect a belief in your child’s potential. Tell them that you believe in them. Encourage them in their academics, hobbies, spiritual life, etc. Even when you discipline, do so with a belief that they can live up to the moral ideals and values of your family. Use discipline to teach them of their potential. Make sure you discipline them out of love, not anger. As you discipline, offer an alternative, positive behavior to replace the negative behavior exhibited.
9. Reflect acceptance and approval of your child. Hug your child every day. Affirm your love for your child…even if you have to discipline them…especially when you have to discipline them. Talk about things that interest them, even if they do not interest you. Proclaim your love and pride in your child in front of others.