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The Power of Messaging

What face do you show your kids when they walk in the room? 

As they enter, are you busy looking to see if their shoes are on the right feet, noticing the spot on their shirt, or wondering whether they completed the chore you asked?

Or do your eyes light up with their presence?

Do you greet them with a smile?

No?  Not always?  Me neither…

But some time ago, I stumbled across a video of author Toni Morrison speaking on the Oprah Winfrey in 2000 in which she said,

“It’s interesting to see, when a kid walks in a room—your child or anybody else’s child—does your face light up?  [T]hat’s what they’re looking for.  When my children used to walk in the room when they were little I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers, or if their hair was combed, or if their socks were up.  And so, you think your affection and your deep love is on display—cause you’re caring for them. It’s not.  When they see you, they see the critical face. ‘What’s wrong now?’  But then if you let your—as I tried from then on—to let your face speak what’s in your heart, because when they walked into the room I was glad to see them.  It’s just as small as that, you see.”

She and Oprah went on to discuss that that is how you learn what your value is.  Not by what someone says, but by what they feel.

This hit close to home.

I realized that I was often doing exactly what she cautioned against.

When my older daughter came home from middle school, too often my focus was on what needed to happen next in her day, rather than just welcoming her back into the fold.

When my youngest would come down in the morning, I was often focused on what outfit combo she had put together, or what she wanted for breakfast, rather than greeting her for the day.

My thoughts and actions came from a place of caring and connection—that affection and deep love to which Morrison referred.

But it didn’t show in my face.

The last few months, I have worked to change that.

Now, I pause, smile, give a hug, or a “welcome home” to my girls—and make sure my face reflects my true joy at seeing them.

I remind myself there is time yet to address the schedule, the outfit, or breakfast.

And I remember that, in their eyes, hose things don’t matter if I don’t start with the love.

What message are you sending with your thoughts, words, or actions? Does it match what is in your heart?

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Christy Keating fun headshot

Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.