Early in our marriage the hubs and I belonged to a small group of other ‘young marrieds’. We had two mentor couples who were 20 years our senior. They were (and are) parents to three children and were halfway into the world of empty nesting. It makes me smile just thinking about all our conversations about life, love, and eventually-raising children.
At one point we decided to have a “parenting 101” series of discussions. Mama Re (our mentor) held the conversation with her family’s philosophy: ‘The “Smith” family does…’ (last named changed)
She began to explain that in all things they used language that defined her family. Often times we find language to be used to defend or explain the ‘why’s’ but if we use language that defines who we are as a family then the children grow up knowing a sense of belonging and understanding of ‘who they are as a family unit’.
Instead of saying “stop chewing with your mouth open”, “don’t push your sister”, “stop jumping on the sofa” etc. she used “the Smith family chews with their mouths closed”, “the Smith family uses gentle and loving hands”, “the Smith family sits on their bottoms”. When the kids grew older the language was easily accepted in situations of “the Smith family leaves bedroom doors open”, “the Smith family starts dating at 16”, “the Smith family sticks together”.
This helped tremendously if the questions of “Suzie is allowed to go to the mall with out her parents and she’s only 12 and that’s not fair because I’m 12 and a half and…etc” were brought up because an inherent sense of ‘this is who we are’ was at the heart of the conversation instead of rules and procedures/do’s and don’ts.
Our children range from 1 to 9 years old but we’ve always used this kind of language, thanks to Mama Re 🙂 . My favorite (because it’s funny) is still “The ‘Smiths’ chew with their mouth closed’. We get loads of stares and smiles when we’re out in public if this one is heard by nearby diners.
The bonus to using language like this is that you can greatly reduce a lot of the negativity of “don’t, no, stop”*** language. Can’t you just feel the oppression of having to use (or hear) those words all day long? it’s draining-for everyone.
***and I’m not saying that you should never use these words I’m just saying you don’t have to use them as your main style of communicating
Here’s a painting we made for our house- it photographed really faded so I tried to edit it with my limited skills and it didn’t really turn out to look like the actual painting, but you get the gist. 😉