I believe children are given to us, not to grow them up, but rather to grow US up.
That is the wonderful gift that children are.
My children are in their 30’s now, grownup and on their own, but I began to realize when they were in their late teens that the real focus of parenting was about us, their parents, becoming the mature people we were supposed to be.
Think about it – every time I was irritated that they needed or wanted my attention, it was because I had something that I wanted to do for me, finish my book, watch TV, talk to my friends on the phone, etc. , the list is endless.
I began to understand that there were some things – not all – that had to go on the back burner in order to nurture these children in a positive and productive way. I only had them for about 20 years – I have had a dozen careers since they have been on their own. The world will not come to an end before you get your chance to shine. They did not ask to be born, that was our choice, and therefore they have reason to expect that we will do the very best we can, allowing for the ups and downs that build character and maturity for children as well as adults. They watch your response to difficulties and trials and they learn from you – I think that is why self-restraint and thoughtfulness is such a gift to learn.
So, if the premise of childrearing is also about adult rearing, then I am grateful beyond words for my children. They and their school mates and friends have taught me that I have to “walk the walk and talk the talk”. They can spot a phony miles away!!! You cannot fool them – if you think you can get away with bad behavior or dishonesty“because they are too young to understand” – you are only fooling yourself – NOT them!
They have taught me that I have to stay one step ahead of them, not just for their sakes, but also for mine. I have learned from them to be creative in discipline and correction, while at the same time being consistent and lovingly firm. I have learned to be unafraid to have principles and stand by them, even when I am scared that I will somehow lose them to negative influences. I have learned that I have to be honest if I want my children to be honest as well.
I have learned to listen without comment when I heard, “You all are so naïve, I will NEVER treat my children like you are treating me, and I can’t wait to leave home”.
I have learned to – not take it personally, not lose my sense of humor, and believe in my God, myself and my children, and we will turn out just fine.
And today – we are a family of Dad, Mom, Daughter (and Son-in-Law) and Son who call one another best friends.
So, if I am a successful adult, then I can attribute that good outcome to the great adventure of raising my children. I have written to my children to tell them that I turned out alright and I give them all the credit for doing such a great job!
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