In between loads of laundry (mine, Little Guy's, and then today Snuggler's) I've been thinking about the Cub Scout camping trip. When you're around 19 boys for an entire week, certain truths become self-evident:
1. EVERY kid has good qualities that show up unexpectedly. The slasher-movie boy turned out to be a sensitive artist. A spider-phobic kid was amazing at helping others calm down (as long as arachnids weren't involved). When strengths appear in someone else's kid we're pleasantly surprised, and often comment positively. We don't always do the same with our own children.
- Reminder to self: Notice your child's strengths, and don't keep your pleasure to yourself. Tell him something genuinely positive about what you see in him.
- Reminder to self: Work on the issues there are to work on, and keep things in perspective. Our job to help our kids grow into healthy, productive, community-building, coping adults -- and it's work. Good work.
- Reminder to self: If you don't reinforce character traits, chances are your kids won't know you value them. Think of the character qualities your child has. When was the last time you told her you value her honesty... reliability... ability to choose good friends... self control... resourcefulness... thoughtfulness... ability to avoid jumping in with the crowd...?