By Daneen James
As parents, we often believe (as it relates to our children) that we have the monopoly on knowledge. But without a doubt, my daughter has been one of my greatest teachers. When we pay attention, being a parent creates some of the most meaningful “mirror” moments of our lives. Here are a few of the things that I have learned, see if any of these resonate with you.
We Are Not Our Children
Our kids don’t define us and we don’t define them. Children come through us, but their lives do not belong to us. They have desires and destinations that are unique and distinct from ours. Mistakenly we may think our kids need or want what we do (or did). We try to remedy what’s missing in us by giving them what we’ve missed. It never works. But it does manage to make everyone involved feel miserable. I was consumed with ensuring that my daughter had a healthy relationship with her father, because I didn’t. My actions were misguided and caused unnecessary frustration.No matter how well intended, as parents, our role is not to manage and manipulate our kids. Our responsibility is to live in a way worthy of emulation. In many respects, parents are facilitators. We are called to see our kids for who they are and help bring out their best. Not project our mistakes and regrets.
Kids Hear What We Don’t Say
It’s never too early or too late to let your kids know that they are your priority. They may never say a word, but kids absorb what you do and respond accordingly. What you show them always takes precedence over what you tell them. Time is the currency that communicates concern and care. Carve out time to be around your kids. Whether it’s watching a movie, picking them up from school, cooking a meal together, playing a video game or literally just being in the same room doing different things. It’s not the activity, it’s the intention that matters. At some point, they will talk, they will let you into their thoughts. When they do, regardless of what it is, big or small; listen and give them your full attention. Let them know what they’re saying matters to you. You don’t need to force or finagle; overtime they’ll see they can trust you. And as your kids mature and your relationship evolves, more of a dialogue will develop. Never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Not only is it honest, none of us have all the answers, but it’s an opportunity to reinforce that even when we’re unsure, God never is. So, we would do well to seek His direction in all we do.
Parents Are Human
It wasn’t until I became a mother that I could see my parents as people. I knew the stories and had lived through the consequences of their choices. But never really considered or tried to understand, how what they thought and felt, contributed to the decisions that impacted me. It’s interesting, that when I did, what once felt foreign, now feels familiar and relatable.
I found empathy, compassion and a renewed respect for the people who raised me. You know what, I'm gentler with myself too. Sure, we continue to evolve. But when we do our best in the moment, what more can anyone ask of us and what more can we ask of ourselves?
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Daneen James is an inspirational author, speaker and develops uplifting
products and media through her company, SPARKSAFLAME.
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