Friday, November 9, 2012

Why I Became My Kids' Penpal

 “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
 - Catherine M. Wallace

My boys on the first day of school
My boys are growing like weeds! I just had to take my oldest out for new pants because nothing he had fit. I can't keep up with the growth spurts.

The time we spent shopping was precious. We talked about school, friends, and other things that are important to him. As the boys get older, these chats (and time for them) are harder to come by.

It crosses my mind that some day my boys will be teenagers - with jobs, sports, and girls (Lord, help me!). Then they will be adults!

As I think about them growing up and the kind of relationship I want to have with them as adults, I remember hearing someone very wise give me a piece of advice. She said, "Start now with the things you want to see in them as adults."

If I want them to be neat and tidy adults, I need to teach them how to be tidy children. If I want them to have a strong work ethic as men, I need to teach them how to work in our home. If I want them to share the details of their lives with me as adults, I need to start inviting those details now.

I have to admit, I have so much to learn as a mom. Every day I mess up. Every day I say or do something I wish I could take back. And sometimes, hearing the details of their day (a complete rundown of the roster of both teams at soccer) is just not interesting! But I'm trying.

I don't want the boys to stop telling me about their day. I want to be a part of the details in their lives - even (especially) as they get older.

So I'm trying to encourage them to share with me now. I'm also trying to listen better. When we went shopping for clothes, I tried to really listen to my son and share his excitement for his new video game (ugh). When I went out the other night, I took my 9 year old with me. He's so funny! I forget how funny he can be when I'm rushing us all from one thing to another.

I get all kinds of ideas to bond with my boys that I never actually try. They look good on Pinterest or sound good in a magazine, but I just never get around to implementing any of them.

Finally, I decided to try something. I bought three composition notebooks - the kind we all need for school each fall. I labeled them for each boy. I wrote them a note on the first page of the notebook explaining that I wanted us to be pen pals. I would write to them and put it under their pillow. After they write back, they can put it under my pillow.

So far, it's working. They all wrote back. Their notes were so precious! The little one dictates to DH what he wants him to write.

We've written back and forth a few times now. The older two are slower to respond than the little one. But it's something!

I'm working to cement an open line of communication now - when they are little - and hoping it stays open as they become teenagers and adults.

What about you? Do you have anything that's working in your house to keep your relationship with your child solid and open?


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