Our Guest Writer: Bethany is a mother of 3 and passionate about helping people of all ages encounter Jesus for themselves.
If you are anything like me, when you discover something that transforms you in such a dynamic way, you want to share it with whoever will listen! For me, that includes my children. I have a nine-year-old daughter, Abby, a six-year-old son, Eli, and a six-month-old son, Ben. I first learned of Thrive and the Relational Skills in 2017 while attending workshops and conferences with Life Model. When I learned about the 19 Relational Brain Skills, it was like a puzzle piece I had been searching 29 years for that had finally surfaced! I realized how many skills I did not have, but instead of feeling powerless to change, I felt like I had tools to help me gain desperately needed skills. I immediately began to read “Transforming Fellowship” and tried to incorporate things like appreciation and quiet in my home.
I remember the first time I tried practicing quiet with Abby and Eli. Whew! What a long 30 seconds that was! Fidgeting hands, whispers to one another, messing with whatever was on the counter… the struggle was real to get them to participate with me! I have also tried using appreciation exercises with my family around the table with some success. However, my efforts seem to not bring about my desired outcome. I can get weary and eventually stop trying to change our habits or introduce new or better relational skills.
I love when solutions and ideas find us.
The other day my son, Eli, was playing one of his favorite video games on our iPad. He was bombarding me with questions about levels or something I knew nothing of. I realized he needed three dollars to bypass ads to play the way he wanted. I decided at that moment to just pay to remove the ads (this kind of behavior from me is unusual, so it was a big deal). You would have thought I had just bought him a long-awaited birthday gift! He was filled with delight all afternoon. He kept walking around the house exclaiming, “Thank you, mom! Thank you! I just can’t stop saying thank you!” At that moment, I realized he was experiencing appreciation, the very thing I have tried to teach him to feel and communicate with me through other exercises. I responded to him by helping him realize what he was experiencing in response to what I did, and that it was called appreciation. “Eli,” I responded, “What you feel is appreciation. And did you know that you can feel appreciation any time you want? You can remember this moment and think back to it when you are sad or upset and feel it all over again!” He responded, “Well, then I’m about to have a lot of appreciation moments because my birthday is soon!” Of course, what I thought was my moment of brilliance turned into the fact that he would receive birthday gifts soon! However, I think he learned what appreciation feels like that day, and I also learned an important lesson.
There is always a place to start, and that place is usually with a new language.
After interacting with Eli about his appreciation, I realized that in the past, I jumped straight into teaching skills to my kids without first teaching them a new language. So, for now, I plan to scale back on what I expect when teaching my children relational skills. I now want to live with a better awareness of the presence or absence of skills and teach my children a new language of relational skills. It is my place to start.