It has been quite a few years since my daughters were small, but I can remember saying that I wished they came with instructions. I think every parent has uttered those words. My girls were raised with Dr. Spock. Big mistake!
My parents didn’t even have Spock. They may have done better. I guess my kids will have to be the judge of that. No matter. I also remember saying that I would not make the same mistakes my parents did with me. I didn’t (at least the ones I was thinking about when I said that). No, I made my own mistakes.
I am sure my kids have said they will not make the same mistakes with their children that I made with them. Fair enough. No, they will make their own, too.
Parenting has to be the most daunting task we face as humans if we are serious about raising happy, healthy kids who find fulfillment in adulthood. Too many of us (and, yes, I was one too) think, Just do the best you can and it will all come out in the wash. There is good in the advice to do the best you can, but too few parents really do the best they can. Instead, we do the best we can:
a. without impacting the budget too much
b. without taking the time and resources to seek good information
c. without impacting our schedules and personal time
c. without admitting that we really do need help
What a pity! So let’s put our resources of time, energy, and even our money to good use to become better parents. There is a glut of information—some of it bad—available on the web and other venues these days. It does take time to sort through the rubbish and zero in on value. Sometimes we need to pay for good information. But aren’t our kids and our world worth it?
Our prisons are overcrowded these days. Our streets are dotted with the homeless. We see people on outrageous campaigns that we know are harmful to society. All of this because someone didn’t take the time and energy to understand, guide, and nurture the good in his or her children and other people, and give the good in themselves to make this a better world.
Understanding each other is where it starts, I believe, particularly as it applies to our children. My years on this earth cover more decades than I care to admit in this article, and in those years this is something I have learned through experience the hard way. However, I have learned it, and I have also learned how important that understanding is. Although it does require time, energy, and sometimes money, the results are well worth it all.
Understanding other people—be they our children, coworkers, spouse, the politicians that are in our government or the clerk at the grocery store—is an urgent need in our society today. Understanding promotes mutual respect, without which there is no good relationship. Understanding helps us to join hands to make the world better for all, not just those who see the world through eyes like our own. Understanding promotes peace in the home, community, nation, and world.
Furthermore, understanding starts with me understanding myself and how I relate to others. Our children know when we don’t understand them, and they disconnect as a result. When we don’t understand ourselves, we can’t begin to understand anyone else. So, let’s take a look in the mirror of our inner selves. Then, take a look at those with whom we have relationships. Ask questions:
What matters to me?
What matters to my child? My spouse?
Why do I think like I think?
How is it different from how my best friend, child, spouse thinks?
What motivates each of us to get energized and “do something?”
What makes my heart sing?
What makes my child happy?
What makes my spouse happy?
Do we share common motivations?
If not, do I try to make my child or my spouse be more like me?
Is that fair?
Could they be made differently on the inside, with different urges and drives toward different goals?
Is that okay?
The list is endless if we are going to take the time to really understand ourselves and each other. Therefore, we’d better get started. Each of us has a limited time on this earth; a limited time to get it right, a limited time to make a difference, a limited time to enjoy the difference understanding makes, a limited time to teach our children with quality wisdom.