Actually, to be completely honest (#confessionsession), I had a not-my-finest-moments week as a mom, and, luckily, my kids are super forgiving, but, I looked up several Ralphie Jacobs interviews to help me kick the yelling to the curb.
If you’ve never heard of her, she is seriously a positive parenting genius.
In this episode, though, Tony was the star. He made an observation as a practicing therapist that when the feeling in the room is love, things usually work out – even if the road ahead is long.
That means tackling problems as a team, rather than me vs. you (like we’ve talked about). It means refraining from trying to hurt one another’s feelings by way of retribution. Sometimes, it means getting over the nitty-gritty details and the to-do list and just doing things together that strengthen your bond.
His comment reminded me of some of my favorite statistics to whip out for you guys 😉:
- In a 55-year longitudinal study, Vern Bengtson found that relational warmth is the single biggest predictor of faith transmission across generations.
- And, Robert Epstein found in a meta-analysis that the top parenting strategy to get the outcomes we’re looking for in our kids is love and affection.
Did you catch that?
I’ve thought a lot about that.
In the context of marriage:
I don’t know about you, but whenever Joe and I struggle, I notice an almost self-fulfilling cycle.
Setting goals is a great thing, and trusting your partner enough to communicate negative emotions is even more important in a healthy relationship.
But, the ironic thing is, the fastest way I’ve found to resolve disconnection is not only an emotionally safe space to talk about those things, but also intentionally creating sincere moments of love and connection.
The more it “feels like love” in the room, the more love grows.
So, lately, I’ve been working on letting go – not pushing things under the rug, but remembering to laugh, too.
In the context of parenting:
When it comes to parenting, for me, it has surprisingly come down to when to rely on, and when to ditch, “the routine”.
Systems often keep me sane. A traditional schedule in our home looks like this:
- Wake Up
- Free Play
- Circle Time
- Outdoor Time
- Movie/Reading/Naps/Quiet Time
- Free Play
- Clean Up
- Family Drive/Walk
- Kids’ Bedtime
- Mom & Dad Time
After a lot of trial and error, this general flow found our family needed blocks of “me” time, spouse time, and learning/playtime for the kids.
But we also deviate!
Some days, what’s best for our family looks like:
- getting out of the house!
- visiting friends, cousins, or grandparents!
- having a cleaning day or a work day to knock a few things out.
- sitting with an elderly neighbor.
- spending the whole day in our pajamas!
The question I’ve started to ask myself is, what feels like love?
Does it feel like love to follow the flow? Or something else? Which one makes mommy (and, therefore our house, let’s be honest) a safer, and more loving environment?
In the context of health:
I use this question all the time when it comes to my body, too!
What feels like love?
Getting my heart pumping? Being outside? Thinking unkind thoughts about myself? Eating a piece of chocolate guilt-free? Or guilt-riddled? Including my spirituality and mental well-being as part of my daily self-care? A nutrient-dense breakfast? Going to therapy? Hiking with my family?
We face so many choices in every area of our lives on a daily basis.
The key is being mindful, rather than living reactively or acting on autopilot.
In the context of politics:
In fact, mindfulness is becoming more and more essential.
And it’s hard!
But, the more I jump out of the rhetoric and into the why behind an important issue or viewpoint, the more I understand.
We all just want to be safe and happy and for others to experience that same opportunity – even if we go about that end goal in different ways.
In my most important relationships, I’ve also learned that love and trust are extremely intertwined.
When I’m choosing where to plant my flag, I not only ask myself, what feels like love?, but, also, what feels like truth?
And we have to recognize that – just like with parenting – there is not a one-size-fits-all equation!
My answers to these questions will vary from my neighbors’ answers down the street, or across the country.
Thus, it becomes this juggling act of trying to preserve the most agency and freedom for all – defending my rights (as we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to do), but not voting for my personal benefit at the expense of another, and, more importantly, living my values in my day to day life.
At the farmer’s market, in the grocery store, in my conversation, on my social media… What feels like love? What feels like truth?
And, do I show that, not because I always talk about it, but because I ensure that in my everyday, mundane interactions, love is the feeling in “my room”?
Today, I invite you to ponder these questions with me, and, maybe, one person at a time, as we change the feeling in our “rooms”, we can bring a bit more love to the world, too.
Here’s to the strength to sustain us in doing good.