This question was posed to me and a small group of other moms as we met for our weekly gathering to support and encourage each other.
“What would your kids say is most important to you?”
“Oh man,” I thought to myself. “I use my phone an awful lot to keep in contact with other adult humans and also to work from home. Would they say my phone? I really hope they wouldn’t say my phone.”
What would my kids say is most important to me?
I tried to think of other answers to share with the moms that wouldn’t sound so bad. But after another mom sheepishly said, “Probably my phone,” several of us agreed that our phones would be a very probable answer.
After that instance, I really got to thinking about it: am I demonstrating the right priorities to my kids? I use my phone for both business and pleasure, and I use it to make an income as a freelance writer and to stay sane socially. But what do they see?
I was so interested in what my two boys (ages 8 and 2) would say that I asked them. (I knew my toddler probably wouldn’t understand what I was asking, but I included him, anyway, for the sake of science.)
Shortly after sitting down with them for breakfast, I said, “If someone asked you what was most important to me, what would you say? What do you think is most important to me?”
2-year-old: “Dobby dobby dobby.”
8-year-old: “What? That shadow on the ceiling looks like a Velociprator, look at it!”
I was not entirely surprised by these answers. So I asked my oldest again, more urgently.
He looked at me like I had sprouted another head, and then said, “Um, I don’t know. Us, I guess? And taking care of Willie. You take care of him a lot.” Whew! (William is the toddler, not my phone.)
Then I asked them what they thought was most important to Daddy, and my oldest said, “Work.”
Kids see things so literally. I was grateful for the opportunity to explain that their dad works hard to support us so I can work from home and be around for our family during the day. I also talked about why we choose to limit activities during the week — so we can enjoy long evenings and weekends together. And I reassured him that he and his brother are very, very important to us.
And he understood.
A few weeks later, I asked him the same question again about what’s most important to me, and his answer was, “Me and Willie.” I plan to keep checking in periodically to keep that conversation going.
So, what would your kids say is most important to you? I understand how it might be uncomfortable to think about. Naturally, anyone would worry about what the answers might be, but I would still encourage you to ask them. It’s a great exercise in perspective to see your family from your children’s eyes. It’s interesting how they see things so cut-and-dry, black-and-white. It’s strange that it never occurred to me to ask them before.
If they give you an answer that you aren’t proud of, it opens up a dialogue so you can reassure them what is most important to you and why. It also brings to light some things you can maybe focus more (or less) attention on, and gives you the chance to tell them face-to-face what is most important to you. Spell it out for them, because I think it’s something they will always remember.
Take the time to see things from their eyes; it shows them that their thoughts and feelings matter. And who knows, you might even get to see a Velociraptor shadow that you had never noticed before.More On