Listen to Your Children and You Shall Hear

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One of the best lessons I have learned as a mother is to listen to my children.

AND…

Because I’m the mother, I get to decide which advice to take.

I have said no to totally gutting the inside of our old house and starting over.

I’m not sure what else I’ve said no to, but I bet my girls could make you a list.

I have two daughters, so I get double advice.

Daughter Number Two, Laura, is pictured above.  When Laura and I go shopping, she helps me pick out clothes.  She doesn’t like frump or bag.  In fact, she HATES  frump or bag.  I always get compliments on what she chooses for me, probably because I look less frumpy and baggy.

Laura insisted a few years ago that I get an IPod, and I did.  That sent me on many happy miles of walking with my favorite music.

Laura’s latest project is my fitness program.  She (and the rest of the family) kindly refrained from any sniping comments when I was the last one up the mountain on our Thanksgiving hike.   Actually, I felt they were lucky I made it up the mountain at all.

But a few weeks after, Laura said, “Mom, I think you need to work on your fitness level.”  I guess I haven’t been walking fast enough with my IPod.  ( It’s also probably not a great idea to circumvent all hills I encounter in our town of Hillsborough.)

And so I get it.  I’m not just lucky to make it up the mountain.  I need to be fit enough, especially for the sake of my heart, to make it up the mountain without taking in most of the mountain’s air.

Resolved.  (And this works with my plan for Naked Church in July.)  We’ll see how I do.

But this post isn’t really about fitness or fashion.  It’s about listening to kids, be they our own children or nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, or young people who aren’t even related to us.  We can decide to take their advice or not.  It’s the listening that’s important.

Advice from kids feels different.  It’s given with great love and  usually, flat out honesty.  The young ones don’t tiptoe around.  We react, I think, with honesty and openness too.  I’ve found, in talking with my girls, that I’m less defensive than I am with spouse, friends, colleagues, or parents.  Not always, but often.

After all, deep down, don’t we want that remarkable child to be right?

Photo:  Laura and I on the top of Humpack Rock Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway.   BTW, she’s also working on her dad.  She wants him to color his gray hair.  Guess what sort of luck she’s having with that suggestion?  Zilch, thus far.

22 responses »

  1. It might be threatening (and even alarming!) for kids to see their parents age (even a bit). Reduced stamina, graying hair, wrinkles – all things kids don’t want to see. Why, I wonder? Do they feel THEY are getting older, does it somehow change THEIR world for the worse? Interesting line of thought you’ve given me! I’ll have to ask my children; I’m sure they’ll give me honest answers! Thanks for the ponder! : )

    • I think they just don’t want us to kick the bucket and aging makes us closer. And yes, perhaps part of it is the realization they too will age. It’s all kind of sad but onward!

  2. Yes, kids will tell you their opinions. And good to listen to what they say. But they usually get the same reaction from me as I get from them when I try to give them my opinion about what they wear, etc. Their opinions don’t have years of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of aging behind them. They are usually more concerned about what others think. And that is what most of us finally don’t care as much about. And that is freedom! Comfort has become more of a focus for me and for many others I know. And I agree with Susan that most young people have trouble accepting the fact that their parents are getting older and may not be able to keep up with them physically, etc. But like I said, no harm in listening and even taking their advice–if it is reasonable and you like it.

    And Cliff, do not color your hair!!! That piece of advice I definitely would say NO too. It looks good the way it is. And besides, coloring your hair is a real pain.

    • I’ve been thinking about becoming a blond, so I’ll be like everyone else in the family 😉 Or maybe covering the gray with purple and green and a dash of orange like some styled hair I’ve seen on young ladies recently. But then my spouse will walk out … just like if I were to grow a beard. So I’ll continue to show my gray and be clean-shaven and be concerned what one particular other thinks 🙂

      • Maybe we will have another Halloween party and you can try out that purple, green and orange style or maybe you can try it out on nude church Sunday. Add some extra excitement.

    • I know what you mean about comfort. Laura was very disappointed I chose comfort over style in the shoes I wore to Kath’s wedding. I will have to say though, that when I look at the pictures, my feet do look kind of frumpy.

      Cliff is pleased about the hair compliment.

  3. My daughter is the same way with fashion. Just yesterday she told me (starting with the words “don’t take this wrong”) that I looked good because my pants were tight, because apparently all my stuff is too baggy and makes me look bigger. I thought this was funny because my pants are tight because I’ve gained weight this fall.

    • Oh fun! That is a great story. Yes, this generation HATES bag! They don’t even allow maternity clothes to be baggy, which is taking me a while to get used to.

      • Oh, I am so glad not to be pregnant now. I didn’t love my maternity clothes, but if I had to wear them now I’d be soooo self conscious! I got huge and I don’t think the tight look would be that cute on me!

      • So, I’m not alone in getting really tired of seeing every young pregnant woman’s “Baby Bump?” I even hate the term! Yuck. I liked my maternity clothes.

        And btw… not every young woman today SHOULD be showing off her midriff. I don’t like baggy and frumpy, either, but really… do we actually have to see every roll and ripple right down to the butt crack? Young or old – this is just not right.

  4. My granddaughters Avery and Emma were with us over the holidays. Avery did not realize that I have glasses that I wear when my contacts come out for the night. She said “Wow you look like a grandma in those glasses”. I pointed out that I am a grandma. She then stated,”Well… you really look like a grandma in those.” I have an eye appointment and plan to update my eyewear. Our other granddaughter Emma asked my husband why he highlights his hair. He does not highlight his hair, but like Cliff has salt and pepper locks. I can’t even talk about what Emma said about my boobs. I will say that i am sporting new bras now. (ha) I am thankful that my 7 and 9 year old granddaughters were so brutally honest. They are remarkable!

    • They sound smart and darling. They will keep you in line, that’s for sure.

      About the bras. My girls are never happy with how my top looks. When I’ve gone for official fittings though, the lady in charge at the store makes me buy them so tight I can’t breathe. Sometimes, I think it’s just easier to droop.

    • Ha! Leslie, I hear ya on the boobs thing. My 10 year old granddaughter is getting concerned about her future boobs. I think what she’s thinking is “Will they end up looking like Gramma’s?” I wear supportive bras but still… there’s no stopping the inevitable. In order to avoid traumatizing the poor dear any further, when I stay overnight at their house, I wear a sleeping bra. I just can’t subject her to THAT look! 😀

  5. One of our sons tried to give me fashion advice lately, but I ran the advice past his girlfriend, and she nixed the advice, giving credibility to my initial fashion inclination. Having raised 2 sons, it is very nice to have other women in the family.

  6. Pingback: A Menopause Tip Across the Centuries. Well Maybe. Read On… « Friend For The Ride

  7. “Advice from kids feels different. It’s given with great love and usually, flat out honesty.” Flat out honesty. Yup. That is what’s so refreshing, don’t you think? I love advice from my daughter. It’s always said with great clarity and a direct look in the eye.

    BTW… congrats on getting up that mountain! I have advice for the daughters out there, as well. Exercise NOW so you can get up that mountain when you’re in your 50s, too! 😀

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