Parenting Hot Tip – Give Your Face

man-head-portrait-face-53549What is your resting face? Some of us (myself included), look less than happy when our face is at rest, really we might be just thinking about what to have for dinner and not mean to be scowling. When someone coined the term the ‘b**chy resting face* I was thrilled as finally my “condition” had a name.

I sometimes get a fright when I am using my phone or iPad, because if the screen goes blank, I see my reflection in the glass looking back at me. They say that by my age, you have the face you deserve – in which case, I must have been very, very bad. I have been blessed with one of those faces that permanently looks like I have eaten a bad mussel. If I try to deliberately push an expression of happiness onto my face, I’m told it looks like I am plotting something evil. And if I try to transmit friendliness with my face, apparently it looks like I am plotting something very evil. My good friend, entertainer Pio Terei, once said, “I love you, bro, but just don’t sit in the audience where I can see you. If I see your face, I always think, ‘What am I doing wrong?’”.

Whatever your face is like, your kids love it, especially when it is beaming straight at them. Babies search for your face and their infant eyes can’t actually focus well. The only things they can see sharply are at about 20 to 25 centimetres away, just right for peering into your face while they are feeding. Within the first few weeks of life, they are mirroring your expressions back to you. They learn what those expressions mean. They can read you. Before they understand your words, they understand your face.

adorable-baby-beautiful-boy-41000I know that you will be giving your kids lots of wonderful presents, but give them the gift of your face. Meet their eyes, and smile. It doesn’t have to be a 10 megawatt grin with all your dental work, just feel a bit of love in your heart as you meet your child’s eyes and your facial muscles will know what to do.

When I smile, of course, onlookers might think I’m having a coronary but amazingly my kids know my face and know what it means. In our busy, distraction-packed world, nothing is as reassuring as a parent’s loving face, smiling at them over the top of a book while you read to them, catching their eye as they are playing, blowing them a kiss as you turn out their light. And, with all the other expenses you have, it’s nice to know that this gift is very cheap.

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