Everyone has days, as a parent, you would give a paycheck to have access to the User’s Manual to the children you love. Particularly the child that thinks you are the worst person in the entire world and there is no way you can possibly understand them.
I need to begin with letting you know I love both my son and daughter with a complete understanding of who they are.
I have watched them grow and develop their (very different) personalities from the first breath they drew. Their personalities both mirror mine, and are totally foreign to my thought process. But I have come to appreciate the adults they have grown to be. Both have taken a significantly different path in their lives; but each lives a full and interesting life.
I truly believe while nurturing your children throughout their lives, you are learning about yourself.
Before your first child is born, you are focused on yourself and probably your partner (and maybe your pet). At the precise second your new little human being presents themselves to the world your life is forever changed. I mean forever.
I remember the first time I saw my parents after my son was born I apologized to them for all the heartache I had caused them. And I was a “good” kid – honest. But I felt compelled to tell my parents I immediately understood what pain I caused them: the nights of worry coming home late; choosing a direction they knew wasn’t good for me; marrying young. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing. But I understood my parents concerns at the first breath of my son.
What I learned from my parents was you have to let your children skin their knees sometimes. It’s not good to protect them from living.
You are in a child’s life for love and guidance. I can assure you there were many times I held my breath after talking about options to my son or daughter. They chose the opposite of what I wanted. But again, it wasn’t my journey. So we rode out the choice, good or bad. We dealt with the success or failure of the choice and both learned something about ourselves and each other.
Listen to your children. Hear what they have to say. Admire they have opinions, hopes and dreams. Don’t tell them they “can’t”. Figure out a way to help them try to accomplish what it is they want (if not dangerous to their wellbeing).
Your listening needs to begin when your child starts to develop a personality. Listening when they are young, you will acquire the ability to notice any warning signs that can be dealt with at a very young age.
For example, your young person might tell you about a little lie they told or something they may have taken from a friend. Right then and there, have the conversation to correct a potential liar or thief. No yelling, no screaming. Don’t destroy a relationship with them by reacting in judgment. React with care and correction – stern, but with love. Let them hear the concern in your voice.
You should not hide emotion from your children. They need to see you as a person who loves them and wants the best for them.
And let me tell you, it gets very difficult as they get older. There were days and situations I just held my breath and prayed. I knew a given scenario could end up very bad (for my child). We talked, and we talked, and we talked. The choice was for my children to make. The repercussions were for us to deal with. I would take dealing with the repercussions all day long, as opposed to not knowing what was going on (or not being able to give my opinion).
I am by nature a listener. But I am also an opinionated person.
I had to learn to give my opinion and not expect the person to “do what I say”.
I plead my case to see things from my point of view, but that doesn’t always happen. I learned to hear what they were saying and respect their choice. Which very often turned out great for them! And when it didn’t work, I was there to listen, to redirect their pain or anger.
My children have taught me many valuable lessons.
They have helped me reach middle age a wiser, more aware woman.
I value people with a different opinion than mine, and understand there is absolutely nothing wrong with another view. I embrace the diversity of people.
It would be a boring world if everyone had the same outlook or values as me. I don’t have to live with people who are different than me, but I enjoy them.
Thanks to my children I am a better adult.