Family closeness is very important to me. It’s something I’ve always wanted, even before my son, who’s now thirteen, was born. In our family, we celebrate each of our unique personalities. We believe this creates a strong family bond.
I was one of the youngest of six children. Each of us was very different, and I learned at an early age that certain differences were not acceptable. Being yourself was not encouraged.
I was a precocious little kid with a ton of energy. Instead of greeting my unique personality with an attitude of “Look at that, it’s so interesting that she’s full of life,” my family made it known that my behavior was completely unacceptable.
For a long time, I was shy about who I really was, but I’ve learned to embrace it more and more. I love to share. When I learn something new I want to share it with my family and my friends, sometimes with anybody who will listen. I’ll often write about it in blog posts. In fact, my good friend refers to me as a shareasaurus. I love that, because it’s really me. I’m becoming who I’ve always been.
Often, the uniqueness of who we are gets squashed in youth. As a culture, we’re conditioned to exclaim when something is a little different or seems strange. I encourage parents to allow and accept individuality, even when it doesn’t resonate with them.
When faced with a new situation, it’s important for us as parents to check in with our own thoughts before jumping into comments, suggestions, or even questions. We can ask ourselves, What kind of thoughts are going through my mind? Are they negative or positive? How we react to a situation is based on how we feel, and how we feel comes from our thinking. If you feel negative about the situation, clear that negativity out of your head before you discuss the situation with your child. Then, in a loving and curious way, be interested in what’s going on.
My husband and I really try to support our son in being himself. There are times when I’m taken aback, but I do my very best to give him a smile and be interested in what he’s sharing with me. In return, our son has become very easygoing and nonjudgmental. My husband and I think he’s pretty extraordinary.
– Katie McClain
This interview was originally shared on Life By Me