I’ve been reading a book by Elisabeth Elliot called, Let Me Be a Woman. It is a compilation of letters she wrote to her daughter before her marriage. In one chapter she tells a story about a time she was too busy and her daughter knew it. Here’s the story:
“When you were small there were always Indians around us, and I had many things on my mind in the running of a jungle mission station. I was sometimes tempted to pay little attention to your small needs. You knew it at once. You knew whether it was an opportune time to get away with something. You would try it, and my preoccupied, “Val, leave that alone,” you would ignore. You knew you could safely ignore it because my attention had already turned back to the thing at hand. I learned very soon that I had to give my full attention to you when I spoke. I do not mean that I gave you my full attention twenty-four hours of the day. I see mothers who very nearly accomplish this and they do it to the destruction of their poor smothered, harried children. I mean that when a matter needs the mother’s attention it must get her full attention for that moment. I had to turn from my work and turn to you.
“Your eyes would open wide when I stopped what I was doing and looked at you. Slowly, slowly, your hand would drop when I said your name. In the moment of pause and silence you assessed my seriousness. Either I meant it or I did not, and there was no dissimulating with you. You knew which it was and acted accordingly.”
I experienced the same thing with my children and now again with my grandchildren. That look says, “I see you and what you are doing. I have something to say about that and I expect you to listen and obey.” That look has some important components that I want to talk to you about:Your attention, your authority, and your child’s development. [Read more…]