Think about this. The people in our lives who look past our faults and see our beauty, the ones who still see the light in us during the times we feel only darkness, those are the people who save us from the depths of blackness. Those are the ones who help us see our own beauty and light again.
We all need that person – someone who reflects our light back at us so we can see it, too. That’s what a parent should be. That’s what it means to become light reflectors. We should always seek to see our child’s light, to hold it sacred, and to show it to them when they need a glimpse.
When we keep showing them their light, they’ll always be able to find their way. My friend and New York Times Best Selling Author, Rachel Macy Stafford, speaks beautifully on keeping protective hands around their inner light.
Practically, how can we do this? It begins with a decision to see the light in our kids, and this is profound because we very often focus mostly on the things we want to change rather than on the things we want to grow. It’s a mind shift.
It’s looking through a different lens – a positive one. This doesn’t mean that we let poor behavior slide or allow poor choices to go unchecked, but that even during times of correction, we are showing them their light.
This requires a mindful change in language that might look like this:
Dark reflector: “I’ve had enough of that bad attitude today. You’ve been a total grump since you got home.”
Light reflector: “You’re usually in such good spirits. It seems like something is bothering you today. How can I help?”
Dark reflector: “You’re in big trouble for hitting your sister you naughty boy!”
Light reflector: “Uh-oh, it’s not okay to hit your sister. I know you didn’t mean to hurt her. Come sit with me and I’ll help you get control of your frustration.”
Dark reflector: “I can’t believe this grade on your report card. Obviously you’ve been irresponsible this semester.”
Light reflector: “You’ve proven yourself to be a good student who works hard, so I’m a bit surprised at this grade. Can you explain this to me?”
Though it takes practice and intentionality, the goal is to shine a light on the child’s good qualities, even when they aren’t readily apparent. When we do this, it helps them to rise back up to that goodness. When we have unshakable faith in them, they learn to have faith in themselves.
Another practical application of being a light reflector involves re-framing any character traits we perceive as negative. Strong-willed might be seen as determined. Bossiness might be seen as leadership. High sensitivity can be seen as a strength rather than a weakness.
When we re-frame in this way, we can guide them in making these traits their strengths by teaching them how to own them in a positive manner whereas if we see them as negative traits, we will be constantly fighting against their nature.
Change Your Language:
Finally, be generous with affirming words. Children see themselves through the eyes of their parents, so make sure the good is reflected in your eyes. Make sure they know that you see their tremendous value. Remind them of their strengths when they are weak. Remind them of their successes when they fail.
Remind them of their goodness when they are feeling bad. Be the one person who never gives up on them, who never focuses on their darkness, who never points out all that is wrong with them. Be their light reflector. Show them all the beauty they have within.
We all have light and dark, the potential for good and bad. Unfortunately many haven’t realized their good potential because they didn’t have a light reflector in their life when they needed one.
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” – Anonymous