Your Presence Is The Present You Give Your Kids

Parenting 101 especially after divorce most important tip:

Be present with your kids. Listen. Take the time and stop what you’re doing so that they feel like you’re listening to them, you’re hearing what they’re telling you and they feel heard because they’re important to you. This makes all the difference to them.

Janie Leeds

Recently my kids had some friends over and they were all chatting about men’s fashion styles, what it means to be a gentleman and their relationships with their own dads and stepdads. I was busy putting things away around the house (and yes, I was listening with half an ear) when suddenly one of them asked me how to tie a man’s tie because they were practicing.

Luckily, my own dad had taught me how to tie a Windsor knot, but I can only do it facing the wearer of the tie. So I stopped what I was doing and starting ‘teaching’ it to all of them. It was so fun to be included and we ended up talking for a long time. Sure, did I have plans and was on a roll with what I was doing? Yes! But did I stop it to be present with them? YES!

Why? Because these precious moments don’t come often enough as far as I’m concerned. And when they present themselves, I am all in! These early 20’s year old boys sat around with me (I fixed snacks) and wanted to talk with me. To tell me what was going on with them and how they were feeling. They even talked about their parents’, girlfriends etc. I was amazed and honored. I kept thinking that my kids would want me to butt out, but they encouraged it.

It was really interesting to hear their points of views on life. It made my heart sad when one who has both biological and step dads talk about how he feels alone. The boys shared how they wanted to be dads to their kids and some wanted do things differently than their dads did. But the one thing they kept saying to me was how much they appreciated that I took time out to talk with them.

And what made my heart swell with love was when my kids told them that we do this often. We just talk about life and those boys asked if they could come back and have a chat again soon. I was honored. I even got a bit teary after they left because they seemed to sincerely want to return to just talk and be heard.

So stop and listen when the kids want to talk with you.

Give them your full attention because they know when you’re not and they won’t try to talk with you again if you’re not all in.

They’ll feel pushed away even if that’s not your intention.

They’ll feel alone and abandoned even when you don’t think that’s the vibe you’re giving off.

To them, it is.

I actually think this applies to all relationships, but because we had this experience over the weekend, I thought it was important to tell. Perhaps it might help someone else….

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11 Responses to Your Presence Is The Present You Give Your Kids

  1. Beth W. says:

    I LOVE this, Janie!! How wonderful to have that opportunity to be there and to be totally present for all of them. I totally think it would be amazing if we did this with all our relationships. Sometimes just having ONE person who listens and genuinely cares what we say can make all the difference in the world. Good for you being that person!! What an inspirational post!! You are awesome!! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • janieleeds says:

      Aww Beth, thank you for being so sweet! I just thought it was a precious opportunity and I took it! And perhaps I could inspire someone else to do the same for their kids or a stranger or their loved ones…❀️ I think you’re awesome too! πŸ™‚

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  2. LA says:

    You are spot on…

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  3. TJ Fox says:

    I’m always shocked when I see how other kids have uncomfortable or completely distant relationships with their parents where they never talk. I know I shouldn’t be because it is really uncommon for parents and kids to be close enough that they can sit down and have a honest, open conversation with each other. It is one of the things I cherish about my relationship with my kids, that the know they can come and talk to me about anything and they do, that they know I’ll be there to listen, that they will encourage their friends to talk to me if they need it. I think it is amazing that you’ve managed to keep this with your kids even through all the difficult times you’ve had together. You are an amazing mom!

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    • janieleeds says:

      TJ, you’re an amazing Mom! I love that you have this type of relationship (and I love that I do)! It took time for us to develop it after the divorce but loving support and communication have been a driving force here. The kids and I can and do talk about everything as you do. It can be awkward at times, but it has been a blessing. I am so glad you’re the same! πŸ™‚ Hope all is well with you…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OmniRunner says:

    I think most parents give up those moments. I know I gave up plenty.
    I don’t think most of us realize what we are doing when our kids are young and we do this.
    Now that my kids are older I’m trying to be more present. I also understand that I need to make these moments happen, or at least create the opportunity for them to happen.

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    • janieleeds says:

      Exactly! πŸ™‚ I agree with you. I think I became more aware of those precious moments once the divorce was over and we were making a new life w/o their dad. It takes time and patience to do it, but it is well-worth the connection! πŸ™‚ Good for you!

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  5. hbsuefred says:

    I’ve had kind of an opposite experience and perhaps an opposite goal with my own kids, especially when comparing the same with friends and also my past and present situations with my own kids. All this thought goes back to the “central” question for me: is it preferable to have adult kids living geographically close by or far away. This is one of those questions that will be answered differently by different people.

    Like many people in my situation, especially moms, who spent more time with and paid more interest to the kids than their partner and who ended up divorcing after those kids were grown and gone, I have found they learned a lot more life lessons from me (and from their more distant and alcoholic dad) during their youths than I’d ever imagined. I got this info from their feedback after I apologized for putting them through what I was afraid was not the most idyllic or ideal childhood. I’m sure this fear was a reflection of my own low self esteem at the time.

    Anyway, and again during their childhoods, and both of my kids are girls, I did directly tell them that I wanted them to know, develop and appreciate their strengths, talents values and needs, with the goal that each could be and do whatever they decided they wanted to be and do, on their own and without feeling the need to meet anyone else’s needs or live up to anyone else’s expectations or requirements, other than their own. Essentially I wanted them to be self-sufficient and they have been.

    All of the above, past and present, has really put my mind at ease. Going forward, this will make my own decision making about where I want to be and what I want to do a lot easier, knowing that they can do and have done the same. Of course, I am extra glad they both want me to move close to them and are trying to convince me that MI winters are not so bad! This CA girl is still skeptical about that, though.

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    • janieleeds says:

      A move from CA to MI would be rather shocking in the weather department I’m sure! But to have given your girls the self-confidence to know their own worth is priceless and I applaud you! A peaceful mind, knowing that you’ve done all you can, is a godsend.
      At first I negated starting over. I didn’t want to do that, although I didn’t want to continue the way things were with the (now) ex. But I have found so many pluses in starting over and I hope you do too!!

      Like

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