I have a special connection to sunrises and sunsets. My Father was obsessed with capturing the beauty of sunrises and sunsets in photographs his whole adult life. When our family camped, he would be the first person up in the morning so that he could find a good vantage point to witness the daily miracle of the sun peeking over the horizon. He loved to go the Oregon coast and sit on the beach at sunset and make special note of the slight changes in the coloring of the sky as the sun sunk into the Pacific Ocean.
I remember him saying, on several occasions, ”You missed a beautiful sunrise this morning.” I didn’t really think much of it at that time. I valued my sleep more than I valued the sunrise, but recently, my values have changed. I started running in the mornings. I rise and start my run just as the sun begins to share its light. Since I started doing this, I have experienced many morning sunrises that have left me speechless and delighted.
The Aha Moment
When I was out on my run recently, I thought to myself, “How many marvelous mornings have I missed?” I thought, “Why? Why did I not enjoy my mornings more? Why did I not take in the beauty that was so readily available to me?” The heavenly reply was, “Because you weren’t looking for it.”
That got me thinking, “What am I looking for?” Not just in sunrises and sunsets, but what do I prepare myself to experience every day, especially in my relationships with my family? Am I looking for the good, the positive, and the miraculous in my children? Or do I fail to see the amazing things that are right in front of me, simply because I have not been looking for it; because I haven’t prepared myself to see the best in them?
[Tweet “Am I looking for the good, the positive, and the miraculous in my children?”]
I learned some things from my experience with my morning runs that have challenged me to look for and see more of the best, most wonderful parts of my kids instead of focusing on the conflicts, struggles and flaws.
4 Principles for seeing more sunrises and beauty in your parenting and children.
Run: In order for me to get up at 6 AM to go for my sunrise run, I have to remember to set my alarm clock and put clothes out the night before.
Parenting Parallel: In order for us to see the sunrise moments and the most beautiful parts of our children in the mundane, we have to begin with a positive attitude and a plan to help us see those things even when they challenge us or trouble arises. I often do an exercise with parents in my counseling office where I ask them to identify 5 things their children do that are a regular source of irritation. I then ask the parents to consider their list and write a positive attribute that relates to each of the five irritations they wrote down. For example, a mother once wrote, “He is so hyperactive and plays so loud!” When I asked her to identify something positive about her child that related to his hyperactivity and loudness, she waited for some time and then wrote, “He is an active and happy child.” This did not change the fact that she continued to have to set reasonable boundaries on his activities during play, but it prepared her to see the “problem” in a different light and to respond and set boundaries in a more effective and positive way.
2. Make a special effort to see it:
Run: If I didn’t get up and go run at 6 AM, I would never see that amazing sunrise and feel the peace and inspiration that comes from it.
Parenting Parallel: Even when we plan and prepare ourselves to see the good in our children’s actions, we have to actually do it. When situations arise that make it difficult to see the whole child, stop, dig deep and use the plan that you came up with ahead of time. Remember and recite the positive attributes that you thought of in step one.
3. Acknowledge it:
Run: I’ve noticed that on some of the most amazing days I have heard myself give a vocal, “Wow” or even an audible gasp when I see and admire the colors and feel the warmth of the sunrise.
Parenting Parallel: We are always moving through life so quickly. We miss so much, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we see our child’s smile, see them willingly share or play together or maybe we enjoy a random hug when we need it most. During these moments, stop and soak them up. Acknowledge them out loud. Say, “Wow, that was amazing” or utter a simple “thank you for being a ray of sunshine today.” Doing this gives feedback, both to our child and to ourselves. It helps our child know that we are seeing all that is good in them and it trains us to be more sensitive to seeing the good.
4. Record it:
Run: I love my sunrise run because I always gain new insight and clarity. Since I started seeing this benefit from my morning run, I have either taken a digital recorder to document thoughts and insights, or I have recorded my thoughts and feelings on paper as soon as I return from my run. This helps me remember and feel those things even when I’m in a “slump.”
Parenting Parallel: When we have wonderful, positive experiences with our children, it can be helpful to record our thoughts and feelings in a journal. Start a “thankful parent journal.” Writing a positive parenting moment each day can help us when we get in a parenting slump. Research shows that when we write an experience down and then recall it by reading it later, that it conjures up the same thoughts and feelings that the original event did. It transports us, in essence, back to that time and place. Through this, we can relive those moments of sunshine even when things seem gloomy.
We will see what we want to see. Those that have eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty and wonder of our children will see and hear it all around them. look for the sunrises in our children. They are there waiting for us to discover if we will simply look.
Question: What are some of the positive things about your child that often times go unnoticed?
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