1/2 of the likables
Just one car is parked against the curb when I see her. The school bell has just rung and out she comes, pushing a stroller at breakneck speed. A tiny blond boy runs fifteen feet behind her, trying to catch up. Without looking behind her even once, she crosses the parking lot exit as her little one runs in the path of potentially exiting cars, still trying to catch her. ‘Mommy, mommy!’ he cries, running, tripping but not quite falling. It’s not until they reach the car that mommy pays him the slightest notice.
I observe with sadness. A thousand reasons why this mama ignored her boy. Distraction. Fuss with the principal. Late to work. Who knows?
I say a prayer for her, for whatever it is that made her walk so fast, whatever it is that made her oblivious to the stumbler behind her, and I am reminded of the many times I acted in such a way and never knew it. I wonder if the people watching me thought what I know isn’t true, but what I’m trying hard not to think:
That woman doesn’t like her child.
The longer I parent, the more I see how important it is not just to love my kids, but to like them, too.
As parents we naturally love our children, but the rest of the world isn’t as accepting. Our child’s future friends, teachers, colleagues, and spouses won’t care a whit about the fact Jonny has 23 cute little chromosomes from me and 23 darling ones from his dad and that he was once an adorable baby that looked like Winston Churchill.
What they will care about is Is he likable?
Is he kind, forgiving, generous, grounded, authentic? Flexible, cheerful, open, confident? Interesting, rounded, passionate…funny? Given to fits of giggling, singing too loud, and eating hamburgers in three huge bites? Kids don’t have to be perfect to be liked, but, ironically, liking them makes them even more likable.
When children know they are liked, they feel the glow of likableness warming their tiny (or not-so-tiny) shoulders and it radiates throughout down into hearts, opening them wide. When a child is liked, he likes others with more ease and grace. Being liked is magical that way. And when he’s likable, the road through life is just that much easier.
1st likable, with a friend.
Like adults, children are riddled with weaknesses, insecurities, questions…Am I okay? Am I good enough?
On our faces they see the reply. In our eyes, and in our smiles, the real kind that seep love and acceptance right down in. Cushioned on all sides with lots of ‘like,’ they can better weather life’s storms, better adapt to uncertainty, better treat those around them. The benefits go on and on.
So, I know you love them, but maybe the thing to ask is…
Are you raising children you like?
If not, what needs to change?