One of the hardest tasks I believe in life is being a parent. And while it is true that it is infinitely rewarding, a blessing like no other and one of the the greatest gifts in life, none of that takes away from the fact that it is incredibly hard work.
Not only are we as a society inundated with the latest and greatest trends in every aspect of parenting in our day to day lives, those trends often contradict what research proved to be the greatest idea just a few months or couple years prior, but we're also such an incredibly competitive society that I feel far too often we didn't live in the moment. We don't truly sit down and reflect and enjoy the life that is going on around us.
I often wonder if parenting 80 years ago was easier? No facebook, no McDonald's or Starbucks on every corner, no debates about vaccines, no electronics or cameras. Just lots and lots of time together. Of course, infant and child mortality rates were higher, it wasn't as easy to get parenting advice or suggestions and how would I survive without my tens of thousands of photographs documenting everything going on?
I do not believe there is such a thing as a perfect parent. I believe that to be a good parent, you have to mean it. You have to want to parent, you have to have that desire to be a good parent. That's it. I think that if you really want to be a good parent, want to parent and put forth that energy and effort, you will be a good parent. Granted, you may make mistakes, but all parents do. At one time or another all parents are going to send their kid to school with a tummy ache, because they are obviously faking it, only to pick them up an hour later covered in puke. Or something like that. It is going to happen to all of us.
There are three lessons or values I want to instill in my children. I truly believe these are the most important they can know or learn. And I respect that not everyone under the sun is going to agree with me ;) I also believe that they are all related to each other. In no particular order they are: Empathy, Courage and Family.
I think that one of the reasons we have such a high bully rate these days is because of a lack of empathy in our children. I think that empathy can be taught at a really young age in very basic terms that can be built upon as time passes. I truly believe that if more people practiced empathy we would be a nicer society. At the end of the day, what is the arm in teaching our society at a young age what empathy means?
I believe children today are lacking courage. I'm torn on why I believe this true. Part of me believes that there is so much patting on the back that someone is doing a great job at something, they end up too scared to try something new because they may not be good at it when they first begin. Yet, another part of me believes that we give up too easy as a society. If something is hard, we stop doing it. We give up and do something else. I think kids should be encouraged to take risks (as in singing in front of a group, not rock climbing without a helmet), and know that there is a good chance they will not be good at it to begin with, and that's ok. I think they should also be given the strength and courage to go against the norm and not be part of the crowd. Fitting in does not equal normalcy. Some of the greatest minds in the world had the courage to be different. I also think that if more kids were more courageous and empathetic, they would be willing to stand up for the kids getting bullied.
And lastly, family. Family, I've written about before. Family is amazing. It is a place where you can be yourself, you can lean for support, you can always count on and that can make the hugest difference in your life. But, family is also work. You cannot expect family to always be there for you without you being there for family. And I believe family is consistent, strong, loving, supportive and builds you up instead of down. Family is not always made of blood and not all blood makes a family. A family is a supportive group, who is there for one another regardless of distance or age. I am so incredibly blessed that my kids have the amazing extended family that they have, through blood and through strong ties, but I hope I have taught them it requires effort, work and a whole lotta love.
Our children are our legacy. We have the unique pleasure, opportunity and responsibility to shape them into a strong community that will take over the world. What do you feel are the most important things to instill in our children?