In the movie, "Sacred Vow," Amber and Doug's daughter is painfully aware of her parent's divorce. In one scene, Doug realizes his actions have a huge impact on his young daughter. In this post, homeschool mommy blogger Latonya Moore (Joy in the Ordinary) shares her insights on how to parent with the understanding that children pay plenty of attention to your actions.
When I was six years old, I did the things that six-year-old children do like look through drawers and closets to find new play things. During one of my rummaging moments, I came across drug paraphernalia. I was searching in a kitchen drawer for something and there in front of me was a glass, burnt pipe. In that moment all of the snippets of conversations I heard from other adults began to make sense. My parents were drug users. Up until that moment, I didn’t realize it or fully accept it. I assumed my mom often left because she just needed a break although I was her only child, and my dad worked a “good” job so surely he had enough sense to not do drugs.
I grew up in the 80s when drugs were taking over many urban communities. Children were left to fend for themselves because the drugs had more power over the adults than the desperate looks in their children’s eyes. Once I became aware it seemed like my parents became even more careless in their caring for me. Neither of them ever came out and said, “Hey, Latonya, we do drugs.”, but instead they moved around as life was normal even though it was no longer normal for me.
From my experience as a child, I was aware that children know more than adults think. They are aware of the changes in their homes even if no one ever admits it, and for this reason I choose to be a parent who shares the good and bad with my daughters.
Three Reasons You Should Have Open Communication with Your Children
Children will carry the burden of their parents. For years past my youth, I carried the burden of my parents’ drug addiction. I felt this need to protect them because they weren’t willing to protect themselves. Most children have an undying love for their parents even when those parents are not making the best decisions. To free our children from feeling the need to protect us when we are making mistakes, we must take the time to communicate with them. As a homeschooling mom, my children could easily feel guilty for keeping me away from a career. They could see themselves as the cause of me not accomplishing this or that goal, but over the years I’ve ensured them that I choose to be a full-time homeschooling mother to them. By communicating with them about my life and choices openly, it frees them for feeling at fault about anything I have chosen to do.
Children will make many of their decisions based on the influences around them. Do you ever wonder how did your child get a particular, negative phrase in his language repertoire, only to find that the phrase is something that you often say to your friends? Our children pick up behaviors and phrases not only when it’s directed at them, but also indirectly. We must choose our own behaviors wisely in order to set an example which is worthy of following. When I recognize a negative behavior in one of my daughters, I first have to take time to determine the root. If I am the root or if she is mimicking me, then I choose to confess to her that my behavior is not good. Not only do I confess, I actively work to change my behavior as I work to help her change hers too. It’s not just about keeping our children on the right path, but it also about keeping ourselves honest and on the right path too.
Children need a safe place to have their questions answered. In our home, my husband and I share not only the good parts of our day, but also the bad parts. We talk to our girls about how we are feeling. By being willing to share, we are modeling to our daughters that they can bring anything to the table. My daughters have known from the beginning that my childhood was quite different from theirs. I’ve shared with them that the way our family operates is new to me so I will not always get it right. They hear me share my concerns as a wife, mother, and daughter with my close friends which models for them that even I have a safe place to go to when I need some of the tough questions answered.
Our children do not need us to hide details from them, but instead they need us to be adults that are transparent so that they aren’t left trying to figure out the details of life alone. Being vulnerable is most definitely tough, but it is also freeing. As parents, we no longer have to hide behind a mask of perfection and our parent/ child relationships are better for it.For a powerful reminder of these principles, be sure to watch the inspirational movie, "Sacred Vow" on PureFlix.com. You can watch it and hundreds of other family movies, online series, and documentaries for free during your one-month trial.