We have tons of guests in town, and the mother in me is coming out, specifically the Russian, Jewish mother who makes sure everyone has eaten, had a drink, and is taken care of. Yesterday after an amazing party in our synagogue for the new bride and groom, I invited all the cousins over to our house, it was awesome. It is amazing to me how kids play together, click so easily, and what I love the most they keep my kids busy and having fun, so I get a minute for myself and to chat with adults.
I ran across this article, and it cracked me up, it says that kids are 800% likely to whine when their mother comes in the room, even if they were just fine right before, don’t I know it! My husband always says they never act that way with him!
Then I saw this amazing post by a friend about how raising children is so powerful, it forms who they are, and also helps the parents grow in the process. It is a choice of course, for some people it is not easy to get out of the programming of genes and childhood, for others it is just a challenge to go from selfish and single, which is not a bad thing when you are single, to dealing with things in the moment and not walking away, being an example, and not giving up.
“Imagine your children in twenty years. They are adults, and all of the values you worked hard to instill in them during their youth have become integrated into a fully cooked human being. Who are they? What are they like? I invite you to take a moment and write down all of the qualities you hope for them to possess. Really think about it, and make a list.
If you are like most parents, your list may seem lofty, with words like fulfilled, accepting, loving, respectful, self-aware, persistent, open, curious, and brave. But how do we, as parents, help our children to become adults who exhibit even half of these glorious attributes? The great anthropologist, Ashley Montagu, wrote, “The child learns to become the kind of human being he or she has experienced” (Ashley Montagu, personal communication, March 13, 1989). In other words, if we want our children to be respectful, we have to be respectful. If we want our children to be persistent and brave, we have to be persistent and brave. Phew. Quite a lot of pressure, right?
Yes. Parenting is a lot of pressure, and I believe it is important for us to recognize the weight of this awesome responsibility. But if we flip the pressure around, we might find that parenting is also an incredible opportunity for us to look at ourselves, and to consciously choose who we want to be in this world. Did you know we get a choice? For many, there is no better motivation for self-growth than the deep desire to do the best we can for our children. But where do we start?
Oftentimes, the first place might be in becoming aware of where we want to go, and how we would like to evolve and heal. I invite you to ponder this question now. Who do you want to be? What are the values and qualities that you would like to work on? Once you have a palpable sense of this, refer back to your list of qualities you envision for your future adult child. If you are like most parents, you will find that the lists are similar, with your hopes for your child being congruent to your hopes for yourself. You already may have been working towards all, or pieces of these lists without recognizing the similarities. Now you have a family goal.
Next, think about ways to incorporate the values important to your family into your daily life. For example, while doing this exercise, one mother realized that communication was something that landed on both of her lists. We came up with ways that her family could practice communication on a daily basis. In her family, each member of the family shares one fun thing, one hard thing, and one proud thing from their days at the dinner table. This helps the family connect and communicate with each other. Just like in the example above, when we are clear about where we are headed, the road along the way often becomes self-evident.
As we and our children embark on our journey together, we get to decide what kind of experiences they will embody, and which qualities we are going to model for them. And in turn, because we love our children so absolutely, we get to grow too.
*Dahlia Greenbaum is a Marriage and Family Therapy Trainee. The information above is for educational purposes, and is not a substitute for therapy. If you are in need of therapeutic help, please seek professional clinical counseling.”
It’s not easy,
I wouldn’t change it for the world,
Ready for them to be adults, have some tea and a good conversation,
Parents tell me they will always be your babies in the good ways and the challenging ways,