Our children’s opinions matter. It’s important to listen to kids, reflect back what they say, and provide feedback, affirmation, and guidance as needed. While giving a child constant, undivided attention fosters self-centeredness, children do need to know that they have a voice, and learn to listen to other people’s voices. A healthy balance teaches humility and self-respect.
Young children can be very frank; they haven’t learned to withhold certain observations, so their opinions can be very instructive. When my children were small, they provided some illuminating insights:
“Your breath smells. Phew! Please, sit somewhere else.”
“Wow, Mom! You look so much better in that coat!”
Fortunately, they’ve toned down some of their candidness with the passing years! But they can still speak their mind, and I’m thankful for that. The comments of an honest person carry a lot more weight than those of a flatterer. I was happy about my daughter’s comment to a friend the other day:
“My mom could stand to be a little less driven, but I think she’s doing a pretty good job.”
(Yes! She said that!) Of course, we don’t want to parent to please our kids. Sometimes I’ve been equally encouraged by being called a “mean mom” when I’ve insisted on chores and earning screen time. But it’s nice to get a little positive feedback sometimes, especially when you know it’s genuine. I knew she meant it.
And what she thinks matters.