I recently did a talk with a large group of middle schoolers about defining moments. The focus of this was multi-fold. First, to get them to see we have small decisions everyday that can make a huge impact to who we are and how people view us. Second, to expand their worldview to see that people who are different from them may share some of the same defining moments. And third, to continue to spread the word about making words matter for good!
This idea of “defining moments” is one that I use in therapy with my child and adolescent clients. I think we can all relate to the idea of a moment in time that gives the opportunity to show the world who we are. A moment where a decision can shape us to a better son, daughter, husband, wife, friend, etc. In my opinion, it is really just a series of defining moments in time that make up who we are and how everyone else views us. Let me give you some examples:
Big defining moments:
- Graduating from high school or college
- Getting a new job
- Moving to a new house
- Losing a friend or a pet
- Parents divorcing
- Watching a loved one become very ill
These BIG defining moments shape who we are over the course of time.
If we lost a pet when we were a child, we might find that we are more sensitive to animals. If we got a new job that we are especially proud of, we might find ourselves experiencing more pride in other areas of our life as well. Consider YOUR big defining moments. What would they be? This week, find time to share them with your child.
THEN, talk with them about how there are also smaller defining moments everyday. One of my values as a parent is to raise children who are kind. Above all else, be kind. My kids are probably so sick of hearing me talk about being kind to friends, siblings, and adults!!! So, I use this value to thread my parenting decisions. When they are arguing with one another about who sits in the front….I remind them of what it would look like to be kind in this situation. When they push one another for legos. I tell them they weren’t being kind. While this might sound “therapist-y” – it continually speaks to them about what my value is.
And then it shows them how each small decision they make gives them an opportunity to show that characteristic (or not).
Smaller, everyday defining moments show the world who we have become (and are still becoming).
Take a moment this week to share your defining moments, teach about defining moments, and enter a conversation about defining moments for them. Then, as the weeks and years go by, continue to evaluate those as they grow! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!!
photo cred (pexels.com – Daniel Kux)