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Posts tagged ‘parenting’

A Note To My Kids

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Dear Diary,

Father’s Day is coming up and yes, I am not a father, but it got me musing about parenting. Parenting is not for cowards. We all flail about trying to do the best that we know how to parent our kids. We have Super Parent moments and we have Bad Mommy and Bad Daddy moments. But we try earnestly to give our children a loving foundation for them to be successful, happy adults. I have six kids ranging in ages from 6 all the way up to 22. I got to wondering; what was I ultimately trying to express to them as their parent? The following is a letter to them attempting to explain these thoughts…

 

I want you to fly. I don’t want you to live in a box. Being comfortable outside of the box allows you to see more possibilities and to be able to spread your wings wider in pursuit of those possibilities. Boxes can seem safer than the open sky, but whether the walls are made of cardboard or steel, they can still crumble as well as merely confine. Finding yourself in a ruined box is more difficult to overcome than to learn to live without the walls in the first place. I want you to grow to be independent and confident people that are not afraid of your imagination or taking chances to go that extra mile on a path that is unknown to you. It is true that life doesn’t owe you anything and that you can’t expect it to be fair. But it is your responsibility to make the most of yourself and play the cards you are dealt the best you can and be ready for the next hand.

 

Don’t be shy to be and do what you see for yourself. You are the only one that wakes up everyday and walks in your shoes, so walk the path you feel that is right for you, not the path others believe fits you. Don’t let fear, anger or boredom rule your decisions or your attitude. Don’t waste your time wishing or waiting for something else or for things to change. Remember that opportunity only dances with those on the dance floor. Make life happen. If you don’t like something in your life, take the steps to change it, but realize that this will usually take time to accomplish. Most things that are important require time, patience, energy and stamina. And you will certainly have pain and you will certainly make mistakes and you will certainly fail at some of your endeavors, but do not accept them as the end. Your failings are an opportunity to learn and adjust your efforts based on valuable experience. It is not about the falling, it is about how you pick yourself back up and continue on as a stronger, smarter person.

 

Be tolerant and kind to others but also be sure to stand up for yourself and what you think is important. If others are unreasonably rude to you, realize it is their own unhappiness speaking and it is their issue, not yours. Be picky about who you keep close to you. If you think about it, you do know what a true friend is. Don’t expect most to understand you and be okay with that. Know that everyone has their own unique perspective and that’s okay too.

 

Keep learning and trying new things. There is always more. To stop is to stagnate, so stay open and live fully.

 

Lastly, I want you to know that I do not necessarily want to shield you from the world, but I do want to help you have the tools to navigate within it. I am not perfect and I do not know everything. I will not always agree with your choices, and you will not always agree with mine. We will be angry with each other sometimes, but know this… I love you and I will always be there for you regardless of the circumstances.

 

And because your mother is a nut for quotes, I will end my ramblings to you with one from the book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” By Richard Bach:

“Your whole body from wingtip to wingtip,” Jonathan would say, other times, “is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought and you break the chains of your body too.”

The Teenage Minefield

I love my daughter. I am proud of the woman that she is growing into. She is sixteen and we are not out of the woods yet, but then again, even as adults we still can spend quite a bit of time in the woods as well. The clearings in the woods that contain the proverbial wildflowers, butterflies and seeping sunshine are what we strive for in our lives. The more time spent in the clearings, the better. However, we must expect that we will still spend some time back in the woods through poor choices of our own or circumstances beyond our control. But, if we find ourselves in the woods again, the goal is to fight our way out, not just give in to being lost there. Such is one of many lessons that we attempt to impart to our children.

As we all know, being a teenager is a hazardous road fraught with many potholes. It was this way when we were teenagers and it is still that way today. One of the hardest ideas to sell to a teenager is that we as adults were once teenagers also. They somehow believe that we just skipped that whole phase so that we could not possibly understand the tiniest bit of what their misunderstood and angst ridden existence is like. And we would never be able to understand that they just want to have fun either. Of course not. Fun is a foreign concept to adults, right? It’s all about stupid rules, right?  Well, the mysterious reality is that we actually do understand all of this because we were there too. And we didn’t think our parents knew anything either. The result is that we have many valuable lessons that we learned from our walk in those woods to share with our kids so that we might be able to prevent them the pain of struggling with the same demons. In most cases our insight offerings fall on deaf ears because other tightly held teenage beliefs are that they know it all and are immortal and immune to danger. The reality is that adults are still actually kids on the inside that have been seasoned with life experiences. Therein lies our tales of caution to our teenagers.

My teenage daughter is not technically my daughter. She is my daughter by choice. I met her when she was three. Her dad and I married a few years later. I have always treated her as my own, and she would tell you this herself. As we have entered her teenage years she has certainly been annoyed at me many times but she has never actually played the “You are not really my mother so I don’t have to listen to you” card. I am sure this has gone through her mind before but she has shown me enough respect not to voice it. We have had many rocky moments and many loving moments. Raising a teenager contains many minefields for both the parent and the teenager. There will be many explosions, and careful stepping, but the joy of clearing a minefield is wonderful. I would like to share a minefield victory with you.

She told me the other day that one of her friends said that it was impressive how confident she was in her beliefs. She then proceeded to tell me that  I have taught her about being bold to do what is right. She ended by saying that when she is acting in such a way she feels  she is addressing the situation as I would. I was floored and touched. She is not usually one to share these types of thoughts. And let me tell you about her being bold in the face of wrong: I am proud to say that she stepped in the middle of a bullying incident. At lunch one day a girl was pummeling another girl over a shirt. My daughter grabbed the aggressor’s arm and demanded that she stop while the other students just watched.

I am so very thankful that some seeds that are faithfully planted and watered do eventually bear fruit. Results may not be immediate and may seem hidden at times but rest assured that your diligence does pay off and when it does, the results are heartwarming and priceless. It is all of our destinies to continue to have periods where our trail is engulfed by the woods, but learning to have a determined attitude in the face of challenges and injustices and teaching our children to do the same will help us to enter the clearings much more readily.

I completely expect my daughter to grow into a strong and lovely woman. She will certainly have her share of scars from being snared in the woods, but I don’t believe she will accept being lost in there. I am sure we will not always agree on her future life choices, but that is okay. When she is an adult, she will be the only one that has to get up every day and walk in her own shoes. I just want to have been able to give her tools to strengthen her character to use on her own personal journey. I wish this for all of my children.

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