Have you ever had somebody in your life who was difficult to like? I’m not talking about love – love and commitment come naturally to me, especially when it involves a child. I’m going to go out on a big limb and confess that I have a child I love and am fiercely committed to, but sometimes genuine liking has been tough. I know, some of you may gasp and think I’m a terrible mother, or perhaps you’ll understand but find it hard to believe that I am admitting it. I’m a little surprised myself, but Russ and I came up with a plan for addressing this problem that has been very helpful for us, and on the off chance that one of you may experience this yourself, I’m going to share it.
We call it “Lessons in Liking,” and it is simple. For several weeks, we have emailed each other one thing we like about this particular child. Sometimes it is quick and easy, while other days it takes time to think of something. We have tried to email back and forth daily and failed miserably through the holidays, but we’ve pressed on.
While this exercise focuses on the likable qualities of a child, it actually has the potential to have a more profound and long-lasting impact. Russ was told about a psychological study where the participants all claimed to hate opera – hang on, this really is relevant. They were divided into two groups and both were required to listen to opera for a certain number of minutes per day. One group, simply listened to the assigned opera. The second group was required to write down observations of things they liked about the opera. The first day they recorded one thing they liked, the second day, they wrote down two things they liked, the third, three, and so on. At the end of the experiment, the group that had not recorded their observations still reported hating opera, while the second group had developed more of a taste for opera.
I can’t find the original study to read the details, but I’ve thought about this. It seems that when we look beyond the obvious challenges and push ourselves to seek the things we like, we begin to find the thing or person more likable. Something changes in our minds and alters the way we see things. It makes sense to me.
Paul wrote to church in Phillipi,
brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Philippians 4:8
As my mind focuses on the likable qualities of my child, I find her more likable; I see the sweetness, the sparkly eyes, the spunk, and I can appreciate her. When I look past the struggles and see the good, something healing happens in my heart, and I can relate to her in a calmer way. As I do, she relaxes and lets go of some of her challenging behaviors; she feels safer and more secure with me.
Every child needs to be delighted over, but many of our children from “hard places” missed this. Perhaps they spent their early years in an orphanage, or with a dying parent. Perhaps they were neglected or abused. These more wounded children may have behavior that clouds our ability to see the truth – that our children are made in the image of God. He delights over them and so should we – even if it takes a bit of practice.
So, how’s that for honesty?
#651 – 660 giving thanks
finding more and more things to like
Dimples snuggling up with me while I read to the children last night
and then falling asleep with her head on my chest
safe driving in the snow today
the satisfaction of knowing that those expensive studded snow tires were worth it
a completely unexpected and delightful package arriving in the mail
Russ’ grocery store run before more snow arrives
watching Little Man make discoveries during math time
Eby playing outside in freezing weather and loving it
a sneak-peek at a friend’s new book
Have a great Wednesday, friends.
This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.