It’s that time of year again. Back to the classroom for the younger set.
Knowing what I know about human behavior, human nature and the dysfunction that goes along for the ride, I view parenting as a misinterpreted and misunderstood role.
No degrees or certificates are given to people to prepare them for the role of parenting. Nor are there awards given out for completing decades of parenting that includes ceaseless attempts to create a happy and successful offspring.
Before I explain what I feel parenting is about, I would like to state what I feel parenting isn’t. Parenting is not ownership. There is no deed or bill of sale that goes with being a mother or father, though I am amazed at how many parents I know who would beg to differ. You do not own your children. You birth your children, they come through you to learn their own ‘Life Lessons’. They are on their own journey to bring forth their own gifts to the world. As a parent, you may want to make their ‘journey’ less bumpy or even remove the bumps on their road of Life. However, please remember, you can not take their journey for them. They need to learn how to maneuver around their own bumps in the road of their own life. This is how they learn and grow.
Parenting is not about creating another person in your own image or in an image that you believe you have failed to achieve. It is also not about controlling, manipulating and bullying another human being in to becoming someone important or ‘special’ so you can feel happy, successful and at peace.
Have you ever asked yourself why certain people ever became parents? In a previous blog, ‘Breaking the Chain of Emotional Pain,’ I wrote that parenting becomes a lot more fulfilling and enjoyable for both parent and child alike when the parent takes responsibility for their own behavior and motives in the parenting relationship.
So, what is parenting really about? Parenting is simply about leading by example. Do not expect anyone, especially your children to be willing to behave or act in a particular manner if you are not willing to do so yourself. Do you want your child to be happy? Of course, you do! The more appropriate question is: are you happy? Do you want your child to be successful in his or her personal and professional life? Of course, you do! The more appropriate question is: do you feel successful in your personal life as well as in your professional life?
Know that your children take their cues from you, Mom and you, Dad. From day one, they are studying you with great interest and intensity. They are monitoring and internalizing every move you make, every word you say and every ‘look’ you give.
Now, I know what you’re thinking! Yes, it can be really easy to become obsessive, paranoid and downright insane if your every breathe determined the mental and emotional well-being of your child. No, that is not what parenting is about.
Here are some tips that I would use for parenting, if I had a child.
If I had a daughter, I would inform her about all the important things she will need to know to be prepared for life. I would tell her that life goes in cycles with ups and downs, yet through it all she would want to be grateful for whatever comes her way.
I would talk to her about the mystery and unpredictability of life and all the excitement and wonderment that awaits her. I would share with her the importance of making memories and creating experiences rather than making the accumulation of ‘things’ the yard stick for happiness and success.
I would share with my daughter the importance of kindness and generosity, especially during the times when it is not returned. I would talk about perspective and to always find the good in people and appreciate something about everyone in your life, even when your relationships are challenging at best.
I would teach my daughter about independence and that everything she needs to know, she knows already. I would teach her that there is no such thing as ‘being the best’ because she is already and always will be perfect.
I would tell my daughter that it is important to honor everyone who appears in your life because no matter how brief the encounter, all people serve some purpose. I would instill upon her that there are no mistakes in life, only feedback and that through feedback, we become masters of our own destiny.
Finally, I would share with my daughter that parenting is about mutual respect and understanding and that she is a person, too. And for us to have a magnificent relationship, I have to participate in it one hundred percent. I would lead her along life’s journey by example.
Now, if I had a son, I would emphasize to him the importance of knowing inner peace because inner peace is the key to a peaceful life. I would teach him that to be a leader you must be willing to allow others to be who they are and to find their own way. I would teach him to give advice only when asked and that people really don’t care how much you know; however, they will remember how much you cared.
I would tell my son that commitment, patience, faith, integrity and fair play are so much more powerful than brute force, speed and physical strength.
I would share with my son that each day we are given to live is a valuable blessing, and what you do with your blessings determines how you will be blessed.
I would teach my son the importance of being a master listener rather than being the first to speak. Remember, my son, you were given two ears and one mouth, so use them proportionately!
I would share with my son the gift of having a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at life and all of its foibles and most important to be able to laugh at himself.
I would instill in my son the importance of trusting his instincts and listening to his heart when making decisions. I would also share with him the notion that if you cannot trust yourself, you can never trust others and therefore, can never fully love.
Most important of all, I would tell my son that it is okay to be vulnerable, because when you are vulnerable and open, people are attracted to you. Your vulnerability, I would add, is part of your divine innocence.
So, there you have my tips for parenting. I do not have a child. Yet I still remain a child of two people who brought me into the physical world.
I have applied these tips to my own life. Much of it I did not receive as a child. Not because my parents weren’t loving or caring. It was because they were not taught the necessary parenting skills that I have just shared with you, from their parents.
Moms. Dads. Lead by example. Heed your own advice. We all started out as little girls or little boys. We all needed to be loved, nurtured, protected and encouraged in preparation for Life’s journey. Many of us did not receive this important information. Perhaps it is time for you to rethink, re-evaluate and revamp your approach to parenting and what it takes to have an empowered child become an empowered adult.