June 1st is Children’s Day. They expect gifts and we bend over backwards to offer something they don’t have. The pressures we are under to “be good parents”, “provide”, I believe steer us so many times in the wrong direction. All children need is LOVE. Unconditional and continuous love. I do think however that sometimes we have no idea what loving our children looks like and we mistake it for the latest gadgets, clothes, food, too much freedom and no boundaries.
I attended my nephew’s baptism this weekend. Starting with my 5 month old nephew and all the way to my 20 year old niece, our family enjoys the gift of six grandchildren for my parents, children, nieces and nephews for my two brothers and myself. It was quite a show to watch the difference in this youngest wing in my family – ranging from a baby who needs nothing but food ans sleep, through toddlers who wreck havoc when they don’t get their way, to a young adult and a teen talking about what business plans mean as one of them was preparing a college report. Life is amazing and it was best seen in all its stages in this beautiful array of ages.
Children do no come with an instruction manual. Testament to the fact that humans are the most complex of beings but also that nature is not everything. We were three generations in one living room at one point and we were telling stories of childhood and I realized, having lived in the same house, my brothers and I lived VERY different lives, even if we are refering to the same event or experience. How could there be an instruction manual?
Over the years, trying to be the best parent for my son, I tried to find this manual. I looked towards parenting gurus such as Michael Thompson, Dr. Shefali Tsabari, tried to understand how to talk so kids would listen, and took STEP parenting classes – attempting to understand what it means to not punish but to teach. Beautiful thoughts and amazing science backing up each and every bit of knowledge here. None, specifically about my son. No specific recipes that would tell me “do this and you will get this result”. Because there is only one of me and only one of my son in this vast, intricate world.
Regardless of the gurus I turned to though, I understood a few things to be essential – by virtue of them all mentioning them:
- You cannot help anyone if you do not “put your mask on first.” You cannot love your child out of an empty vessel so taking care of yourself becomes paramount to taking care of your child.
- Children are not here to solve our problems – they will always help reveal our problems, but solving them is entirely on us.
- Loving a child means respecting the child as a distinct human being not just an extension of yourself, allowing a child to manifest, placing healthy boundaries so the child learns, being present with the child, never, ever thinking of the child as our property. Over-indulging a child, too much freedom, no boundaries, have absolutely nothing to do with love. These are forms of abuse and neglect and create the results that can be expected.
- What we say is endlessly less powerful than what we do – therefore, we are seldom the ones educating our children, this is a one way street only if you do it wrong. Raising our children and educating them is very much a process of educating ourselves as well.
- Children are not our property, they are the most special partners we have on our journey through life. We begin by supporting them, we continue walking alongside them and we end up by them supporting us – and I don’t mean financially, I mean holding our hand, in love, as we leave this world.
In honor of all our children: