9.22.2013

On role models

Dan and I talk often about the trajectory of our family -  about what's working and what's not.  There are always things to tweak or reshuffle or plan for... and then there are things that can only be learned along the way.  Yet we always come back to our core guiding values: to give our children unconditional love and acceptance.  To embrace them as they are.   We want to give each of our kids the freedom to be the people they were created to be, the people they are meant to be.   Of course, kids need guidance; we strive to give it with patience, gentleness and lots of grace. And to give the same to ourselves when we mess up, too, knowing that tomorrow is a new opportunity to try again.  We want our home to be a safe haven, a peaceful refuge.  To (roughly) quote Where the Wild Things Are: a place where our kids are loved best of all.  And we want to give this to one another, too.

recharge

Ever since my pregnancy with Jude, I've been fascinated by families.  I love to observe them - how they operate, their vibe, their cohesiveness, their strengths.  I love to ask questions, especially of people who are a stage or two (or more) ahead of us.  I love to consider what we might incorporate into our own family life and to learn from the families who have gone before us (and alongside us, too).

'home' decorating

Dan's sister Michelle and her husband Tim drove a few hundred miles out of their way to spend one more weekend with us while they were still here in the US.  As parents go, Tim and Michelle are an absolute treat to observe.  They are over a decade ahead of us from a  parenting perspective and recently launched their second child to college.    Both Dan and I are inspired by the way they have so beautifully and gracefully navigated the transition.

Michelle fired up her computer so we could all Skype with each of the 'kids' and hear about how college was going for them. (So fun!).   During these conversations with their kids (and with us) Dan and I noticed the way they listened.

skype!

I mean, they really listened.

skype

Dan attended a training session for work on listening several years ago.  They talked about the levels of listening, with the two lowest forms being listening to argue, followed by listening to tell your own story.  The two highest forms are listening with curiosity and listening to understand.  Tim and Michelle are at that top level, listening with curiosity, with attention, with an eagerness to understand.  It was beautiful.

skype

In general, Tim and Michelle related so well to their older kids.  I loved the way they could appreciate each of their kids' unique giftings and how they encouraged them to follow their hearts.  They were also so wonderful with our kids.  So patient and gentle and kind.


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art time
art time

Tim and Michelle are Indigo's godparents, so Indigo in particular was pretty much in awe of them the entire time  (and so very sad when it was time to say goodbye.)  Truthfully, we all were.

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Thanks for coming out of your way to see us, Tim and Michelle.  And thank you for setting such an inspiring example as parents!

6 comments:

  1. So, I'm way behind on blog reading and posting, but I wanted to let you know I'm enjoying reading about your homeschooling activities and seeing all the pictures of the kids growing! I loved what you said about listening. I'm currently in a stage of working on listening to M with curiosity to understand in ALL situations. So challenging when we're having a disagreement! He's actually called me on interrupting him or not listening. ;-) Maybe together we can get me where I need to be as a listener...

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    1. jenny, you are such a fantastic listener and such a thoughtful parent and person. our kids teach us so much, don't they? i'm looking forward to skyping soon. xx

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  2. I love the way you approach parenting. You do it with such mindfulness. I do it just hoping to survive :)

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    1. You and me both, Carolyn! And I have way fewer children, too! So I'm not sure what my excuse is! But I too am always on the lookout for good role models - parents who survive, whose kids survive and are happy, and who retain their sense of humor and interests! You and Rachel both fit the criteria.

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  3. What a lovely tribute to a couple who are clearly doing a wonderful parenting job . . . and I speak of your in-laws, but without even *really* knowing you, could just as easily say the same thing about you and Dan. The love you have for your children, the intentionality of parenting decisions, they all come across so clearly through your writing. Thank you for sharing a slice of your parenting journey with us!

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  4. wow, lucinda, thank you so much. that really means so much to me and i appreciate you taking the time to leave such an encouraging comment. <3

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