I believe one group of people holds the power to change our entire world in a single generation: Parents. Before I became a parent, I was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a wife. All of those relationships are nouns. Parent is more than a noun—it’s a verb. Being a parent requires action.
Parenting brought a unique opportunity to know myself. Plato wrote that the soul knowing itself is like an eye trying to see itself. Although eyes are meant for seeing, an eye can only see a reflection of itself. I see the reflection of myself in my daughter. When I hold her in my arms, I see someone loveable. Loving my child has allowed me to love myself. In my daughter, I also see reflections of her father. Loving our child reinforces my love for my husband.
As my child grows, I am most intolerant of her actions that reflect my own imperfections. I realize that I cannot discipline her any better than I can discipline myself. Gandhi said we must become the change we wish to see in the world. I must become the change I wish to see in my daughter, correcting and disciplining myself so that she can reflect my change.
When emotions run high, I hear the words of my own parents pouring out of my mouth. I recognize that they did their best and wonder how they accomplished all they did with the limited resources available to them decades ago. My appreciation for my parents generates forgiveness. Forgiving my own parents allows me to forgive my husband for his parenting imperfections. I find that I can even forgive myself.
Everyday in the news I hear of bad things happening to someone else’s child. I can only imagine that mother’s pain. I thank God for my child’s health, and I pray for her safety. I realize that suffering and death are part of life. I feel afraid, but I cannot allow fear to tarnish the gift of life that belongs to those I love today.
People say that the children are our future. But our children cannot accept responsibility for the future as children. They must first grow into capable, responsible, caring adults. They must be loved and nurtured, encouraged and PARENTED. Our future is in our hands as parents.
Parenting creates faith, hope, and love. The Apostle Paul said that the greatest of these is love—the kind of love that is patient and kind, always protecting and always persevering. For me, this kind of love came only through becoming a parent. And it’s the kind of love that really can change the entire world, one parent at a time.
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