Maya Angelou wisely said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This statement has so much insight. This thought is a sensible affirmation to apply in parenthood.
What if we were intentional about how we make our children feel? Maya Angelou said that we forget what people say and what they do. I want to suggest that with our children- what we say and do will influence how they feel!
How do we want our children to feel? Valued, respected, confident, strong, loved, positive, kind, helpful, and supported. However it is you want your child to feel, your words and actions need to be aligned. It sounds common-sense, but it’s not always easy in the heat of the moment. Let’s be intentional on what we say and do with our children. To be aware and give attention to how we make our children feel will have positive effects.
Let it be said, I do believe there are plenty of variables that impact your child’s behavior and how they feel that have nothing to do with you. But for the long term, we can take some responsibility.
My Family Will Never Forget How My Grandmother Made Them Feel
Several years ago, I spoke at my grandmother’s, my Momo’s funeral. She was a simple woman. A woman that we all loved and respected. She is the mother of 10 children and grandmother of over 20 grandchildren. I interviewed some of her children, their spouses, and my cousins when I was planning for what I was going to say. I didn’t think about it then, but one day while reading Maya Angelou’s quote, it came to me.
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Of all the people I’ve known, Momo was the best at this. Everything my family said about her when I interviewed them reflected this. She made them feel very special. Whether it was the way she exclaimed your name through a smile that filled her face when she saw you, making your favorite dish or dessert, or knowing that you were in her daily prayers, you felt better after being in her presence.
All she had to offer was herself and her talents. By using her gifts and walking with the Lord, she positively impacted those in her presence. What she said and what she did leaves us remembering with gratitude how she made us feel.
If Our Children Will Never Forget How We Made Them Feel, How Can We Positively Impact This?
When I created the slogan for This -N- That Parenting, Trying Not to Wing Building Wings, I wanted to send the message that this blog was about being intentional in our parenting and family culture. It is inevitable that we as parents are going to do things that are going to scar our kids for life. It goes without saying.
By no means is this post meant to insinuate that we bend over backward to make sure our children are happy, happy, joy, joy, 24/7! I am referring to the overall generalization of our impact on our child. How would they say you make them feel?
My point is to leave as few scars as possible. How we live out our own life is what impacts our children first and foremost. After that, what we say to our children and what we do with our children will ultimately play a huge role as well.
#1. Live With Integrity
Brene Brown says, “Here’s what I think integrity is: It’s choosing courage over comfort. Choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy. And practicing your values.”
I’ve always heard that integrity is who we are when no one is looking. Once you have kids, it’s no longer just God who is always listening and looking. Our children know how consistent we are with what we say, who we say we are, and how we live it out. Overall, what they witness and experience leaves them with a feeling of confusion (Do as I say not as I do.) or confidence.
#2. What We Do With Our Children Influences How We Make Them Feel
We have to connect with our children. We’ve all heard that children spell love, t-i-m-e. It is true. Ask your child, “What is your favorite thing to do with me?” The answer is going to have something to do with giving them your time and being present. The activity doesn’t matter as much as the way we leave the child feeling. Did they feel heard, valued, respected, and loved while we spent time with them?
I have many ideas on how to connect with your child and the benefits of each in Children: They Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care. If you are not being intentional about connecting with your child you will definitely want to read that.
#3. What We Say To or About Our Children Influences How We Make Them Feel
Peggy O’Mara said, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me is a bunch of bull. Words can and do hurt. When our words enter the ears of our little ones, we are either building up or tearing down. Basically, we decide how we let someone’s words affect us, but it is a challenge to erase them from our memory.
It would do parents good to remember that our words are a self-fulfilling prophecy for our children.
Besides the information in the 2 aforementioned articles, the following bullet points are great reminders about our talk.
- Name your child’s behavior and not name call the child. Instead of calling a child a liar, you can say, “I know what you are saying is not true because I walked in and saw you putting the toy under your bed.”
- Do not compare your child to others, especially their siblings.
- Talking about your child as if they were not there will never serve your relationship. In fact, it breaks so much trust, it’s not worth the venting. Find a trusted friend who you can discuss your child’s behavior with when the child is nowhere around.
- To call your child any name in front of others or to put a name on their clothing is to set someone’s judgment on the character of your child before they have the chance to prove themselves. Here again, if you say, “Terrible Twos”, you will get just that. If you dress them in a shirt that says, “Here comes trouble”, you can expect trouble, and so will others! Is that really the reputation we want our child to have.
#4. Articles to Read That Tell How to Leave a Lasting Impact
- A Family That Laughs Together Stays Together- 100 Jokes to Make Your Kids Laugh
- The Importance of Creating An I Love You Signal With Your Child
- 21 Ways to Say I Love You to a Child
- 21 MORE Ways to Say I Love You to a Child
Call To Action
Our children will never forget how we made them feel, and it will have a lasting impact on their lives. I want my kids to feel valued, respected, confident, strong, loved, positive, kind, helpful, and supported. I bet you do too. However you want your kids to feel. Have a plan to make it come to fruition.
In order to ensure we are successful at this, we have to constantly be working on ourselves, our integrity, how we talk to our children and what we do with our children. The message we send them needs to center around our family’s core values.
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Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS