Sunday, January 24, 2010

day twenty-five: love what your kids love

         "The Colts are goin' to the Super Bowl!"
     quoted everywhere in Indiana right at this moment....

Okay, I admit it--I don't always love what my kids love. Right now we are at my Dad's watching the Colt's play in that game that decides who gets to go to the big game in two weeks. And I have been working, flipping through channels in another room, and even dozing a little. Five of my seven kids love the Colt's--and football in general. They wear our throw pillows in their clothes as football pads and play knee football in the living room. They have "real" football gloves to play football in the yard. And no Christmas is complete without their traditional mud football game—my sweet, feminine nineteen year old daughter included! So I guess you could say that I tolerate what they love (i.e. let them go to Grandpa's to watch it!)--but I don't exactly love it.

One parenting technique that we have utilized throughout the years is showing an enjoyment, interest, or at the very least, appreciation for what our kids love. When Joshua was hooked on basketball a dozen years ago, Ray spent the last hour of the night with Joshua playing ball in the driveway nearly every night. When Kayla was crazy about sewing, I tolerated two years of sewing lessons with her to "love what she loved." When the four older kids were into speech and debate, we coached the team and traveled across the country to make it possible for them to compete. When Josiah couldn't get enough of law enforcement information a couple of years ago, he and Ray went to a four hour class every week about it for three months.

One thing that we caution against when we are “loving what our children love” is thinking that attending their events and activities is a substitution for time spent with them—or even that it is “family time.” When we were heavily involved in speech and debate competitions for several years, the time we spent on it was time spent on our kids—but it wasn’t necessarily time spent with them. And it for sure was not family time. As we traveled to competitions, we were usually all in different parts of the building, busy coaching, timing, competing, and judging. Evenings at the events were spent with the entire team, not with just our family. It was great—and it showed our kids that we were serious enough about helping them develop their talents and skills and about enjoying their interests—but it was not quality parent-child time by any means. Our kids need a lot of both—our support in their activities as well as time with us.

Loving what your kids love takes a great deal of time—and patience! I remember spending four solid hours reading poetry in the Indiana room one summer day when Kayla chose that for our special time together. I vowed within myself that on the “kids’ days” I would not work, read my own personal things, or write. I would just do whatever that child wanted to do. Genealogy and Indiana history are definitely not my things. However, I wanted to keep my vow to “love what the kids” loved as we spent one-on-one days together that summer. Thankfully, another one of the kids chose hiking and another an afternoon movie!

When we love what our kids love, it shows them that every aspect of their lives is important to us. When we take the time to enjoy their interests with them, it shows them this even more. Go Colts!

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