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This week my oldest son posted a link to My Son Wears Dresses Get Over It by Matt Duron. This is a powerful post from the parent of a young boy, ” who is a girl at heart.” This loving father speaks eloquently of what it means to parent a child who is “different.” Here’s an excerpt.
” I’m right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.”
The Gift of Acceptance
Matt Duron understands the amazing power of acceptance. He has grasped what it means to accept his children just the way they are. What a blessing he is to his family.
As parents we are called to give our children the gift of acceptance.
- To embrace who they are right NOW, right at this moment.
- Love them just the way they are.
- Allow them to be who they are and not try to change them.
When we accept our children like this we are saying
- You are enough
- I value you
- I love you just as you are
The Impact of Acceptance
Our acceptance is powerful. It gives our children permission accept themselves. Shame researcher Brené Brown explains that
” Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. When we don’t have that, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons; we hustle for the worthiness we already possess.”
Acceptance transforms families
The most important things about acceptance is the way it builds strong family connections.
Think about the people you like to spend time with. Do you prefer someone who is always criticizing or the person who accepts and loves you just as you are?
I have worked with young people for many years and I have seen the amazing power of acceptance at work in families. Teens who experienced acceptance tended to have strong relationships with their parents. It was wonderful to see.
Unfortunately I also saw the other side of the coin. Young people who experienced constant criticism did not usually connect well with their parents. Now they are adults some of them refuse to have any contact with their parents. It is heartbreaking to see.
It took me a while to learn how to accept my children. I wish I could have discovered this a lot earlier. The trouble was I didn’t know what acceptance looked like. I didn’t realize that my criticisms sent negative messages to my children. No matter how well intended they were.
It can be really hard as a parent. I wanted the best for my children and I worried that if I didn’t push them they would not succeed. As a parent I wanted to give them the skills I thought they needed for life. If only I could go back in time and redo those early years. I would definitely take a different approach.
How to know if you need to work on your acceptance skills
This week I would encourage you to take a step back and examine your relationship with your children. One of the hallmarks of acceptance is a lack of criticism. Think about these questions
- Do you find yourself constantly criticizing your children?
- Do you criticisms outweigh your words of encouragement?
If the answer is yes, then you may need to work on your acceptance skills. I will be writing more about that next week. Meanwhile here are two resources that I have found helpful.
Looking for more?
Ben’s Brother is a band from the UK who have written some thought provoking songs. Their song I Am Who I Am really helped me think about the whole issue of acceptance.
“Why when you dream do you see me as something I’m not?
Why don’t you wake up and see all the good things you’ve got?
A heart isn’t made out of clay
Not something you shape with your hands
Rachel from Hands Free Mama wrote a beautiful piece about the sudden realization that she was trying to change her daughter , how damaging that was to the whole family, and how she changed her attitude. It is a lovely piece about the transformative power of acceptance.
Now it’s your turn
I’d really like to hear from you. When and how have you experienced acceptance? How to you convey acceptance to your children? What struggles do you have?