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Friday, October 1, 2010

D is for Dogs

They sit patiently waiting for us. They wag their tails and beg for attention. They eat without complaining and cover our laps in quiet solitude just looking for the simple affection we can offer.

Why would dogs be important to mothering?

I think many times as mothers we should take more queues from these family friends. Their example is quiet companionship. As our children grow, we need to remember that we are a part of their lives and we can direct them to make good choices, but they are the ones who have to make the choices…for better or for worse.

On those days when the 2 year old is constantly in time out, that is their choice and no amount of “barking” is going to change that. They are exploring their world and finding the limits. Even as adults we search for the boundaries as well. It is no different for them.

When that fourth grader decides to put off their homework, how do we react? Do we stamp our feet and demand they sit at the kitchen table until they finish or do we recognize they are tired and need a break? As adults we know the time constraints and that procrastination will only lead to panic or a poor grade later. But if we don’t let them fail, they will never learn.

Then there’s the obstinate teen determined to get their way and cry out “unfair!” when they don’t get it. Seems like no amount of logic seeps through their resolute minds!

So maybe we need to take an example of our doggie friends and just “hang.” Maybe we should just smile and put the exploring two year old in time out and sing a song while we’re doing it. Possibly that song is exactly what that little one needs…and to feel us holding them.

And maybe that fourth grader needs us to sit next to them with a little chocolate milk and talk about their day as a furry friend would sit in their lap…just being there. There will be other grades and who knows, maybe in fifteen minutes they’ll feel up to finishing that homework.

What about the teen? Well, maybe we should sit and listen to a favorite song of theirs and connect in a way that we haven’t done in 20 years. Sit and listen to their reasoning of what they want and ask questions. Maybe they’ll change their mind OR maybe we’ll have to move outside our comfort zone and let them feel their wings. We can sit at the door like our patient canine friends and wait for their return.

I do believe that no matter what the circumstances, mothers can find a great deal of wisdom in the example of those furry friends we call man’s best friend.

Less barking, more tail wagging is the answer.

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