This weekend began the birthday celebrations for our middle son. To help make the weekend really special, my parents bought us tickets to see the group STOMP. The show was amazing and our boys were entertained and engaged the entire time.
To me the most amazing part of the entire show came in the realization that the people on the stage only communicated through sounds, movements and their reactions to each other (they didn’t need words, sentences or a script).
They were sweeping the stage, banging trashcans; even crumpling paper – all in an effort to communicate with us, entertain us and bring us into their world of complex rhythms and beats.
I’ve heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words” my entire life, but more than actions – what’s the “rhythm” of our life communicating to our children?
Are we living in such a fast-paced, chaotic way that our children can’t follow or find our groove?
What if we don’t have a rhythm at all – what if we’re so occupied with self that we aren’t including our children in the rhythm of our day?
At one point the lead dancer for STOMP stood center stage and clapped twice. He gestured for the audience to mimic and we did. Two claps changed to three, then four, then triplets, and so on.
He gradually increased the difficulty and varied the dynamic of his patterns. When he sensed the audience was lost or unable to repeat the rhythm he’d given he would simplify or change his direction.
I know most of his rhythms were written out, scripted and rehearsed. But what made us respond to his request? Why was an entire music hall, full of people from all stages of life, willing to follow this man?
I believe it’s because he was engaged with us and his rhythm was easy to follow.
When we’re locked in and listening to our family we can engage at the right level. Sometimes our kids need us to walk them through each step of a task. Yet there are other times when we need to observe an opportunity for what it is: allowing our kids to find their own rhythm in the world and their own way of interacting with our family and the world around them.
Finding the right “rhythm” for our family – be it slow, fast or moderate – takes time. As our children grow the rhythm will change and we’ll learn how to move to a new beat and in a new way.
For me, the most important thing to remember is that WE are center stage, showing our children life’s rhythm. They will decide whether or not to reciprocate, elaborate on or ignore our example.
Our rhythm can be simple or complex – either way it needs to fit our family and our life.
Will your children be able to follow your rhythm? Will they want to?
The book of Ecclesiastes is an amazing collection of wise sayings and insights. Verse 11 in Chapter 6, King Solomon writes:
The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?
It’s true. We don’t need a ton of words to communicate – we can lead our family just by observing, responding and supporting them through our actions.
Spend time praying, asking God to give you a fresh outlook on your family, their needs and if the rhythm of you life needs to be tweaked a bit.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to lead an entire music hall in clapping rhythms than ask our family to be in synch with each other, but we can do it!
Leave the words behind and let your actions be an example for the kind of life you desire for yourself, your children and your family.
You’re doing an amazing job!