This series of posts will focus on lessons taught by an incredible daughter to her admiring parent.
“I’m a good girl,” said Shea, my 2-year old toddler said in response to her sleeping in her own bed the night before.
“Of course you are,” I responded. “You are always good.”
This isn’t the first time I reflected on this self-identification by my daughter, and the words I use in an attempt to discipline, manage, and form my daughter. How often have I called her a “good” or “bad” girl.
Imagine how dangerous these words can be to the sponge that is a child.
How wrong it sounds to cast someone as being good or bad based on her cleaning up her toys or a typical “terrible-two” tantrum. It is embarrassing to even write.
I try to say instead that a behavior is good or bad. It feels a bit advanced to be honest, but it is a better path than forming a child to believe that their goodness is based on an action.
As a child of God, made in God’s image, she is already good. She is perfectly made. No action, positive or negative, can change that in her or in us.
Children can reveal God’s love in beautiful ways. I find myself staring at her in awe. I am struck by her sweetness, her joy, her care for others.
Children can also reveal the best in us, and what may need some work.
Just the other day, Shea noticed a bandaid on my foot and kissed it. How many boo-boo’s have we kissed as she attempted to walk and run.
She reflects how her mother cares for her in how she sets her baby dolls to sleep. When we are eating, she shares her food and when we are playing, she takes turns.
While God’s love shines through her, the actions of my wife and I are modeled by her daily.
This of course can swing the other way. She also reveals my blind spots and areas of growth. She tests my own limits, helping me be present to her. Often distracted by phones, music, tv, and the food on the stove, she will point to the chair and tell me to sit. She will play with her toy phone if I am on mine. She will continue to ask me to color and draw even when work and to-do-lists are on my mind.
Our language and our actions matter. How we use words, and how we treat others, are very important as they impact others, especially children.
I am blessed with many wonderful teachers and spiritual guides. Shea sits on top of that list as she has made me a better person, a better partner, a better friend, and a better dad. She not only reveals God’s love, she also reveals who I am, joining her as God’s beloved child.
I may get to stay up later (sometimes), and I may have a few more responsibilities, but we are in this together, as all of us are, guiding one another in love toward a life filled with more peace, joy, and hope.