My sister and I attended the Hearts at Home conference this past spring in Bloomington, Illinois. It was a refreshing weekend full of information (much of it Christ-centered) for mothers to help encourage them in their important roles.
This newsletter article by Jill is titled "Are You a Chameleon Mom?" I can certainly relate. Like her, I am a mom of five. And in raising multiple children, you realize how each child is different and how you need to adapt to the needs, personalities and interests of each one. In my batch, I have a couple who are quiet and sensitive, one who is outgoing. I have one who gets completely engaged watching documentaries and taking in new information on obscure subject and another who would be totally bored doing the same. I have one dramatic one who has no problem being on stage and then another one who likes theater from behind the scenes and likes to do lighting and sounds and stage work, but would be scared to death to act or sing in front of someone.
I know I've written blogs and columns along the same lines. Each child is different. Each one will be interested in different things and I've always had the attitude that when you love someone, their dreams become yours as well. Even if it's not something I would be particularly interested in, I delight in their enjoyment and accomplishments. Sometimes I learn that I like things I never thought I would, like watching skateboarding or riding an ATV or camping. Moms have to be a lot of things and the term "chameleon mom" fits many of us I'm sure. So, this is Jill's take on the subject. Find her on Facebook at "Jill Fleener Savage" or "Hearts at Home" or visit www.hearts-at-home.org.
From the monthly Hearts at Home newsletter:
Every child is unique and as moms, we have to learn to embrace their uniqueness.
When my daughter Erica was 15 she loved to go to the mall. She loved to shop, but even more she wanted to see how outfits were put together or how clothing was constructed. She dreamed of becoming a fashion designer someday. My daughter loved shopping. I hate shopping.
When my two youngest sons were 9 and 12, they loved sports. Between the two of them, there were dozens of baseball, soccer, and basketball games to attend. They both loved the competition and action of sports. I barely knew what the words "offense" and "defense" meant.
Our two older kids loved music. They were involved in choir, school musicals, and theatre. As a music teacher myself, I loved being a part of their activities throughout grade school, junior high, and high school. It was a natural fit to be involved in what they were involved in. I could support their interests because they were my interests too!
My three younger children taught me some new mothering lessons. Just like a chameleon changes colors to blend in with its environment, I learned to adapt to my surroundings and blend in with my environment. I learned to be a chameleon mom.
What is a chameleon mom? She's a mom who realizes her child's interests are different than her interests. Rather than discouraging their interests, she chooses to adapt and take on the colors around her. What that meant for me was that I went to the mall more often-not because I to love to shop, but because I was committed to learning a new way to love my daughter. I wanted to step into her world. I wanted to be her primary influence. I wanted to spend time with her.
For my boys, I've learned the language of sports. There are positions, strategies, and rules to understand. I mastered the sign language of referees and umpires. I worked to step into their world and share in their interests.
Do any of your children have different interests than you have as a parent? If so, you might need to become a chameleon parent. Here are some tips I found helpful in my effort to embrace my children's unique interests:
- Resist the urge to try to change your child's interests. Celebrate their differences and launch into learning about their world.
- Tame your fears about the future. One mom confided to me that she had been discouraging her daughter's interest in the fashion industry because of her own fears about the environment her daughter might work in someday. Set your own fears aside and let your child explore.
- Ask questions. Children feel valued when mom and dad show interest in what they are doing. What was your favorite part of the game? What does this term mean? What interests you most about this?
- Acquire knowledge. Go to the library or surf the Internet to find more information and educate yourself.
- Connect them to learning opportunities. Watch for community education classes. Arrange for them to shadow someone working in their area of interest. Let them explore their interests freely under your guidance and encouragement.
Children need a mom who is involved and invested in their life. They need to know that we're willing to step into their world.
It's interesting to note that chameleons change their color as a form of protection from their predators. You and I have to do the same. Our predators are busyness, work and volunteer responsibilities, fatigue, and general disinterest in things our children might be interested in. We need to adapt to our environment to protect and prioritize the relationships that matter the most.
Here's some good news: sometimes their environment doesn't last very long. Children's interests change over time. Even if their interests stay steady, they grow up and leave home in the blink of an eye. You only need to change colors for a short season of time. Before you know it, you can go back to the color that matches your interests and environment...until, of course, you become chameleon grandparents!
Joining you in the journey,
Mom to Anne, Evan, Erica, Kolya, and Austin
Nana to Rilyn and Landon