I like spy movies. I think it’s so cool the way they use technology to communicate with each other on a mission. Sometimes I used to say to my husband, “I wish our children had earbuds like spies use. Then we could tell them what they need to hear (in our opinion).” I shared this thought at various times – when a child wasn’t playing well on the ball field, or a referee made a wrong call(in my opinion), when a child looked nervous on the stage, or was standing alone with other kids all around, OR when they were misbehaving, yet it wasn’t appropriate for me to approach them due to the setting.
Can’t you picture it?? No one can see them (the earbuds), and we can talk and talk… “You’re doing great! Hang in there! Or…I see you, you know better; stop that; this is your first warning…”
Yeah, I know. Our kids would take them out of their ears, wouldn’t they?! Oh, well.
So, we can’t tell them…but we can show them. Facial expression can be a significant tool for communication because words often aren’t an option. The circumstance isn’t conducive to talking with our child – she’s on a stage, on the playground, on the field, or among peers though we know our child could use a hug, a word of encouragement, or a reprimand.
Early on, I became intentional about giving facial expressions that communicate a message. Pretty soon, the kids learned to recognize, and sometimes look for, my encouraging, cautionary, or disapproving facial expression. The encouraging looks are a fun opportunity to love our child from a distance, and then receive from them that look of relief that says, “OK, that’s right, you’re on my side.”
The corrective looks are a different story, but it’s funny when we look back on them. I remember when the kids were little and they’d wander away from me, looking back as if to say, “Can I go this far??” As they get older, they still look to us with this question, even though they often know what our response is going to be.
At every age, our children are looking for love, approval and direction. They feel the security of being loved when we pay attention to their behavior, even if our expression foretells correction.
How do your children identify your expressions? Have some fun with this. Ask them to show you your “looks” I did this at supper time once: “Show me my look when I’m proud of you. How about when I’m encouraging you? What is my look when I want you to stop doing something?”, etc. I was encouraged, entertained, but also humbled by this exercise. Take a look in the mirror to see what they are seeing.
“He will receive blessing from the Lord…Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob?” (Ps.24.5-6)
“It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.” (Ps.44.3)
When we seek God, We seek to know the One who meets our needs.
How unaware we are of “our looks.” Even as adults, our grown children still recall our impatience by a certain look. Not that long ago, a very grown-up son, took much longer than usual to open his truck door to help me get aboard. I thought I was just standing patiently there waiting for him to bring a step-stool around, a necessity to get “on board.” But apparently not because once we were on our way, he said, “Mom, I well remember that “look” when you were more than a little annoyed at what we were doing.” I honestly was shocked. I wasn't aware there was a “look” on my face that he identified with impatience.
As I reflect, not as an excuse, but to unearth a reason, our mornings were so scheduled we were always in a rush to “catch the bus for school”, “get Daddy to the train station on time”, demands, demands and Mom was the “conductor” of the train!