When you really know your child (see yesterday's post Knowing Your Child) you'll see things that seem beautiful, wonderful, and inspiring, and other things that feel worrying or hard.
Some of what we see worries us because it won't make our child's path easy. The child who is noticeably different--physically, emotionally, or mentally--may be excluded, teased, or just ignored by 'normal' kids. A very sensitive child may come to us sad or angry about incidents that would roll right off their siblings. A child who doesn't read social cues easily may be uncomfortable at birthday parties or play dates.
Other things will make life hard for us. Kids who are emotionally volatile may fight every transition or chore, making it exhausting (for us!) to get things done. Those who are loud, impulsive, or unfocused may be hard to be around at home and out. Kids who are not very compliant or flexible may make for some really difficult parent-teacher conferences.
But no matter what our kids are like, they need to feel embraced, loved, and cherished exactly as they are. We all need this! As parents, when we reject or dislike certain aspects of qualities, our kids know. Sometimes parents say it directly, "I just wish you weren't so sensitive about everything," or "Wouldn't it be great if he was more like his sister?" Other times it's clear to children when we frown as they tell a story or look away when they miss a goal.
Instead, let's be interested and curious about them, suspending judgment. When we are mindful of the body, we name sensations in a neutral way (naming 'warm' or 'tingly' sensations rather than 'good' or 'bad'). What if we observed a child the same way, noticing that they have dirt on their hands rather than that they're 'a mess'? Or noticing that they are showing another child a bug rather than identifying them as 'acting strange.'
When we observe rather than judge, we enjoy a child more. We invite them to feel more comfortable and peaceful with themselves. They need to feel loved just as they are much more than they could ever need to be what we think they should be. So if you've been struggling with something about your child, consider looking from a new and more open perspective. Watch their interactions and choices with curiosity. Suspend judgments. See what happens!
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.