I’ve been to two Mother’s Day masses already this week and I have another one later today. Can you see my halo?
I’ll absolutely take the flowers and chocolates, and the hugs that go with them. But I’ll also take the reflections as well.
The first time I read Naomi Aldort’s book, Raising our children, raising ourselves, I baulked. Really? You have to be that amazing to bring up kids? You have to be that patient, sacrificing, understanding, forgiving _________ Fill in the blanks with your choice of adjective.
But her words resonated with me enough to challenge me to read it a second time. And this time, I started following some of her suggestions. I even typed up some of her most useful ideas – and I’m glad I did because I lent her book to a kinder mum three years ago and I haven’t got it back!
Aldort, who is a sought-after American public speaker on non-violent communication and family matters, believes the struggle between parents and their children is because parents are attached to their old way of seeing things or disciplining their children. She reminds parents that:
when you have the courage to stop defending the way you are, or the way your parents raised you, you can open up to the possibility that you are much greater and more magnificent and capable than you thought you were.
My husband and I often remind each other to SALVE – Aldort’s acronym. She has a little video where she explains this.
S – Self-investigation. Your child is a mirror of you and will reflect what is going on for you. Aldort suggests taking a moment – however long – to check in with yourself before responding to your child.
A – Attention – back on the child. Focus on your child and what their need is. If you have cleared your mind and checked in with yourself first, you are able to truly see your child as they are.
L – Listen – to what your child is telling you or trying to articulate.
V – Validate – acknowledge to them they are going through a tough situation, no matter what the circumstance. ‘You don’t want to pack up.’ ‘You want to stay up late.’ ‘You’re disappointed you lost your basketball match.’ ‘You think it’s not fair your sister had the bigger slice of cake.’ Be careful not to exaggerate or to blame.
E – Empower – your child to come up with a solution or to manage their feelings. ‘Next time, what are you going to do?’ ‘I believe you are capable of working this out with your sister.’ This is about trusting your child to resolve their own emotional response and to handle the situation.
We don’t always manage to remember to SALVE our way through all situations, big or small, but when we do, it does help. My husband even uses it on me sometimes – I know, it’s difficult to be the one to think of everything, I don’t know how you do it!
As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I hope all mothers can see the beauty of their own parenting style, see their children in all their authenticity, and connect with their families.