Building That Emotional Bank Account

In our house, 2nd grade is a big year. Of course, the most significant events are receiving First Communion and First Confession. But at the Weber home, getting into 2nd grade also means you are now able to have friends to come for sleepovers.

So, when our daughter turned eight last September, there was no doubt what she planned to do for her birthday: have a slumber party. We started to put the plans in place for Gianna’s first slumber party.

We are pretty big on inclusion when it comes to parties. We would rather our kids have fewer parties and be able to invite every kid from their class than have a party every year with a select few. It worked out great for Gianna because she has a smaller number of girls in her grade from both classes. There are 13 girls. This is perfect in my view because it is too small to really be cliquey. All but one of the girls was able to attend Gianna’s party.

We had fun putting together every detail. We created together the invitations on Gianna carefully selected the menu: macaroni and cheese, fruit, and carrot sticks. She then picked two fun and delicious sweet recipes out of the kid cookbook. One of her “birthday cakes” was a large sugar cookie with the picture of a rainbow made out of frosting. The other was special chocolate cherry cupcakes. We decided on a schedule for the evening, so as to keep the girls from getting out of control. We even made detailed plans for the special highlight of the night that I will talk more about later.

During the weeks of planning, Gianna came up to me and started stroking my hair.

I knew this was a significant moment.

Typically, it is I who stroke Gianna’s beautiful Asian hair. I could hear the change clanging into Gianna’s emotional bank account.

As the middle sister of two rumbustious and often high-need brothers, Gianna would often get the raw end of the stick when it comes to attention. It really doesn’t help that she is, for the most part, obedient, independent, and usually gets much of her work done at school perfectly.
I know there are many withdrawals in Gianna’s emotional bank account during our daily interactions with each other. When I am impatient, when the intensity of my discipline does not match the crime, when I am yelling or neglectful, I am taking funds out of the emotional bank account.

The good news is that kids are really quite forgiving with our shortcomings and defects. All they really want to know is that they are important to the number one people in their lives: their parents. With kids, a little bit really does go a long way.

Next time I will share how to turn something special into something supernatural.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Visualize the level in the emotional bank account for your loved ones and think of one thing you can do to bring it up.