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That’s what I secretly call it but the real title is “The Love Dare for Parents” challenge. It’s a 40 day challenge to go through the book (of the same title) and commit to doing each day’s reading and action “dare.”

Erin, from homewiththeboys.net put the call out on her blog for anyone who wanted to join her. I found it when a friend pinned it on pinterest. Before you begin the challenge you take a quiz online: lovedaretest.com to see what areas of parenting are your strengths and what you can work on.

Since we began homeschooling Trinity in February of last year I have found that my patience wears thin faster than it used to…particularly with Lilly. What she lacks in size and ability to affect her will upon others she makes up for in volume when she voices her displeasure with…well…just about anything. It’s exhausting. I figured my love and patience could use some tuning up so I decided to join Erin’s challenge.

My first opportunity to make a change in my parenting came on the very first day of the challenge. It had nothing to do with the 1st days ‘dare’ – which was to tell your kids you love them. Thankfully, that’s not an area in which I struggle. ‘Words of affirmation’ and ‘physical affection’ are my top two love languages so my kids get a lot of hugs and snuggles. I tell them I love them so frequently that Trinity has, on occasion responded with “I know mom, you tell me all the time.” And Lilly will now say to me, at the most unexpected times “Mommy? I love you.” In fact, there was a while where every time I helped Lilly wipe while she was on the potty that’s what she would say to me. It took the sting out of an otherwise undesirable parenting job…a little. 😉

Yesterday’s teachable moment was actually inspired by some of the questions from the quiz I took before beginning the book. Some of them were on the subject of whether you, as a parent, model the behavior you want to see in your children. I kind of thought that was an unfair question since my kids have a knack for doing something colossally dumb right when I’ve put a bite of food in my mouth. “DON’T STICK THAT UP YOUR NOSE!!” I yell in a panic with a mouthful of food. Suddenly all those times I’ve tried to tell the kids not to talk with their mouth full become meaningless as Lilly pulls the chopstick/barbie leg/scissors/super glue bottle out of her nose in order to say to me “Mommy, we don’t talk with food in our mouth.” *sigh*

Safety concerns aside, I had a moment of conviction yesterday about the importance of modeling the behavior we want to cultivate. Andy folded up and broke down Trinity’s scooter for our road trip back from California. It fit better in the car that way. Yesterday she brought it to me and asked for help putting it back together. I put the handlebars back where they belonged and attempted to unfold the base from the post that the handles are on and I couldn’t get it to unfold. Busy trying to plan for next school year and not in the mood to deal with it, I said to her “You know what honey? I can’t get that part undone right now. Why don’t we have daddy take a look at it when he gets home. He knows how it works.”

Then it hit me…One of the traits that worries me about Trin is that her laid back demeanor means she often gives up on something as soon as it is challenging because she can’t be bothered to put the effort into it. I want her to learn to problem solve when she comes across a challenge. I had just modeled the exact opposite. I had set something aside because I didn’t want to be bothered with figuring it out. And I had done this with both of my daughters as witnesses. Right then, I changed my tactic. “We are three very smart girls. I bet if we look at this a little closer, we can get it figured out.” With a little more effort and some teamwork we figured out that the part that was supposed to release it wasn’t working properly and we eventually got it fixed. As we worked, Trinity said proudly “We are problem solving!”

So, on day one of “The Love Dare” challenge, I could honestly say it was already helping me be more mindful that my actions speak so much louder than my words. I need to be far more intentional in how I behave around my kids because setting the example how we approach life and it’s challenges (both big and seemingly inconsequential, like a stuck scooter!) is such a large part of parenting.

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