I have something really embarrassing to share: I tried countless times over the course of about 15 years to change my husband and my kids.
Yup. I am a recovering control freak, wife to my hubby of 20 years and mom to my kiddos, ages 16 and 12. I won't tell you which, ‘cause I think -- um, I know they'd give me much more than a stink eye -- but 2 of those 3 lovely beings have ADD. For years, I tried to get them to see things my way, and do things my way.
You see, I'm efficient and effective. I'm smart and creative. (Not that they are not. Their creativity is superior to mine, actually and they're smart in so many ways I am not.) I'm pretty on top of things, though. And reasonable, too.
Isn't it realistic to believe that if you use something, you should put it back? That if you drop food or anything on the floor that you should pick it up? That a “Thank you” is called for when I worked all day, went grocery shopping, cooked dinner for you and have now gone to the store at 8pm to buy the spray paint, stickers and bandana you need for that project that is due TOMORROW?
Recovering-control-freak-mamas tend to move in packs, so you might have some of these same tendencies. If so, I'm confident you don't want to shed any more tears, nor pull out any more hair than you already have. So I'd like to give you a gift.
3 Simple, Life-Changing Tips to Increase Peace and Love in your Home
- Identify and honor the ways in which each member of your family (including YOU) is unique and loveable. The flaws and blemishes in each of our family members, particularly our spouses, tend to jump right out at us, like a plastic mole in “Whack-a-mole.” Every time we try to control or change them in some way, we squash them like that same plastic mole, only they are soft and squishy -- they get hurt. If we do that enough times, they stop being who they are, resentment grows and we definitely do not have what we want: a connected, loving family.
- Stop and ask yourself, “Is this how I want to parent my kids and behave in my marriage?” If you tend to try to control, your attempts to control are likely bearing ugly fruit. Given this, I'm sure the answer is “No.” Now, here comes the good stuff….
- Love, honor and cherish yourself. Yes ma'am. (OK, I mostly work with women, so forgive me. Yes sir, if that applies.) We tend to control others and situations because we are afraid. We are afraid of being seen as less-than-perfect. We are afraid others will look at us and think or say, “She definitely does not have it ‘all together.'” We tend to be people-pleasers. We care a tremendous amount about what others think. Not only are we afraid, but we are often hurt. These two are completely connected. We are often grown up women (men), with a hurting and sad little girl (boy) crouching on the inside asking, “Is there anyone out there who will love me just as I am?”
Initially, I said these steps were simple. Well – they can be, but let me help make it a little easier for you:
Homework: Take 10 minutes today, and write down the name of each person in your immediate family. Next to that, write down 1-3 things that are absolutely unique and amazing about him/her. Now focus on those facts and not the flaws -- as much as you can.
Now, turn your attention to yourself, and repeat the exercise above. Yes—go on. You're worth it. And everyone in your family will benefit, I assure you.
Truth be told, the last one is definitely not simple. But you can take one simple step every day in the direction of loving, honoring and cherishing yourself. A step toward that little girl (boy) crouching on the inside, in which you take her (him) gently by the hand and say, “Yes, I will love you just as you are.”
She needs to be loved. And you -- who know her in ways no one else does -- can love her in ways no one else can.
That's when the healing in your family will start.
That's when the magic happens.
That's when you will begin to love others just as they are -- frustrating ADD challenges and all.