The Garden of Eden and how we mothers can save it!

Ever heard of the saying “An apple does not fall far from the apple tree.”? Let me give you a different perspective using the Garden of Eden story where Eve is the mother, Adam is the father and the apple is their son or daughter.

If you follow my line of thought, (minus the snake and sin part) both the mother and the father had a hand at the resulting apple but it was Eve who had the biggest influence. No matter how many people come into our lives and influence it, it will always be our mothers who leave an indelible mark in us! What our mother does or doesn’t do, shapes our very core!

Allow me to tell you a quick back story about a life-altering event in my life.

In my younger years, I was very fond of making greeting cards. I LOVED making greeting cards so much that on every occasion I created one and gave them out to aunts, uncles and grandparents. Making those cards just made me happy and I felt that giving it away to family, because I worked so hard for it, would make them happy too.

On one particular occasion, I gave one to my grandfather and bless his soul, this was what he told me, "Unsa may gamit aning imong gipanghimu ga sayang-sayang lang ka sa gamit ug oras!" (What use are these things, you're only wasting resources and time.")

That was the last time I made greetings cards as a child.

(In all fairness to my grandfather, he wasn't a heartless man, he just had a different love language and it was not words of affirmation..)

Fast forward today, from my 36-year-old point of view and as a mother, I would've wanted someone else to be there for me, to tell me something comforting and encourage me to still do what I loved doing no matter what others told me, but there was no one there to tell me that. And because I am a mother, I feel that I should at least try and do something about it now.

Obviously, I can't undo the damage but I CAN put in place some preventive measures should a similar spirit-crushing moment knock on my son's front door.

We can't control what happens outside the home but we CAN make the home a more pleasant place to be in so that no matter what happens outside, our children have something good to hold on to. If our home does not provide our child's needs outside of just the basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter; they will look for it elsewhere and therein lies the danger.

I am not an expert on psychology but my tips are coming from the heart of a mother who experienced the pain of thinking I was never enough and who wants her child to never feel that way. To grow up whole and not with a gaping hole from within. I encourage you to do the same plus more!

Here are eight practical and DOABLE tips to make your children's life experiences better and provide them the strength they need to combat a somewhat less than perfect world:

Be your kid's BIGGEST fan!

Ever heard of the phrase "only a mother could love"? We probably all have, but in a more negative context such as "He has the face only a mother could love" and we laugh but really this phrase is not given the merit it is due. This phrase in actuality means that a mother's love is boundless and unconditional, no matter who you are or what you do, your mother loves you.

You're a star in your mother's eyes, you're an artist, a dancer, a singer and you are the most beautiful person in the world - a mother's eyes sees through all that and loves you unconditionally.

We should be our sons’ and daughters’ biggest fans and not their biggest critics! If we are our children's biggest detractors instead of their biggest fans, who else will encourage them to be their best selves? If they are not validated by the persons closest to them, who else will?

If positive reinforcement and tender loving care works for our wilting plants, shouldn’t it work on our own children too?

Hug your child every day!

Do you have memories of stumbling down as a child and running to your mother to take the pain away or even see it on television? What would a mom typically do, she would check where you were hurt, kiss the pain away and give you a hug - that's how powerful a mother's touch is!

If you don't believe in the power of human touch enough, check out the story of the twin who almost died but recovered because of her sister's miracle hug. 

Human touch is a basic need. Did you know that a simple hug sends the happy hormone oxytocin to your blood steam and eases stress and negative feelings? It does! If a hug is that powerful but costs nothing to give, wouldn’t you give it to your kids every chance you get? I would!

Always verbalize your love by saying "I love you" even in the weirdest times.

As a child, I never heard it enough and so I found it awkward to say it out loud as well. I could count with my one hand how many times I've awkwardly said I love you to my parents as a child and more so as an adult. It was not common to hear it so it was never easy to say it either.

I am more than happy that as a mother, I get my daily quota of "I love you’s" from my son. But this did not happen overnight, it is a work in progress. He hears it from me every day and at any moment so he bounces back with an “I love you” even at the weirdest times too.

Think of saying I love you to your kids as planting sunflowers in your Plants Vs Zombies garden, it'll give you the boost when you need it the most. It doesn't cost any to plant it but the benefits are way too precious you can't survive without it!

Thank them out loud for every little thing they do right.

If you ask your son or daughter to hand you a plate at the dinner table, do you remember to say "thank you" or just smile and think they know it? Many of us, out of habit, probably think we've said thank you with our actions and think that the other person "got the message" but this practice is so wrong in so many levels because they actually need to hear it.

One of the greatest bosses I’ve ever had once said, we should not assume anything because the word "assume" makes an ass out of u and me and he's right! We can't read each other's minds that's why words were invented! We have to communicate verbally and most especially when it comes to words of appreciation.

If your little daughter gifts you with a petal from the garden, thank them verbally for their sweetness. If they turn off the light switch without you needing to tell them, thank them for their initiative. If they clean up after themselves after eating, thank them for being a good collaborator.

When you train your mind to be thankful for the smallest things, imagine the amount of gratitude you'd get for the bigger ones! If you let your children see how appreciative you are, they will catch on and be appreciative with the little things you do for them too. Won’t it be a much better world if we were all grateful people?

Lovingly point out what they did wrong but explain to them how they can do it right.

If you were told you did something wrong but were never taught how to do it right, how are you expected to learn? If we balk at our kids to "stop this or stop that" but don't tell them what to do instead, what response are we expecting to get?

If your children make a big mess with their toys, instead of saying "don't make a big mess", say "put your toys inside the toy box so it does not make a mess". When you're told something more tangible and actually doable, aren't you more inclined to follow?

Even as adults we still need guidance on what to do about certain things, (check Google and you’ll see how many questions still pop up there), our kids, who’ve had little experience are no different, in fact they need it more than we do. So, don’t dwell so much on what was done wrong and don’t take it personally, they just simply need to be taught what to do and how to do it right.

Surprise them with a gift every now and then.

Say the words “I have a surprise for you!” and watch your child’s eyes grow big in awe, their mouth turn into a big smile and their entire face light up in happiness! That’s the power of gift-giving in its simplest form! Never underestimate that and use this tool to raise a happy person.

It never matters what you bring home because all the matters is that the gift is a simple reminder to them that you thought about them and that you love them.

In case you think of gift-giving as just a one-way street, consider this first: When you go out of your way to bring something extra to your kid when you come home from work, don’t you feel the excitement building up in you as well? The act of gift-giving is reciprocal, you can’t give a gift without getting something in return and in this case what you get is that warm and fuzzy feeling - and you could never put a price tag on that!

Let your children speak their mind.

If you don’t already know this yet, there is so much raw knowledge and insight from children than what we give them credit them for. In their innocence they have so much to say about themselves and the workings of the world. Ask a child a question and you’ll get the most awesome answers!

But what do we, in our oh-so-adult-we-know-everything-way, tell them? We tell them to keep their thoughts to themselves, stop asking questions, follow instructions and not to join adult conversations. What a waste of so much precious knowledge!

Instead of seeing it as a question on your authority as a parent, think of it as your window to the inner workings of your child’s mind. When you allow your child to express their thoughts and their beliefs, without judgement, ridicule or reprimand, you allow them to be themselves. And when you allow your children to be themselves, like they were meant to be, you avoid the possibility of raising angry, confused and bitter adults. It paves a way for you to create and nurture a relationship with them that is based on mutual respect and not fear.

Fearful children do the right thing because they fear the consequence but respectful children do the right thing because it is the right thing to do – there is a big difference!

Pray for and with your children.

Prayers work - not just in the big things but even in the smallest things. Our children, aside from knowing and feeling we love them, also need to know that there is a God who loves them much more than we do. Having a relationship with God through prayer gives them that depth in character, makes them care for others and makes them look beyond all the worldly and superficial things. The type of children we all want to have and we all can be proud of.

Now let me bring you back to the Garden of Eden again and tell you what happened to the apple that Adam and Eve ate, instead of letting it rot to the ground, they took out the seed and planted it. They gave it enough sunlight so it wouldn’t wither, enough water so it would not drown and enough love and so it grew to be a strong apple tree with good sturdy roots and bore delicious and nutritious fruits! 

And who wouldn’t want that for their kids? I know I would!



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