When I had my only child in my 40’s, I thought this is a lot of work. It was constant feeding, changing diapers and being conscious of safety concerns, but the first time he smiled I knew it was so worth it. His Dad and I encouraged our son to ask questions, to read books, and value other people. When my son lost his father at 7 years old, I was scared to finish this important role alone but as it turned out , my son helped me get through this difficult period probably more than I helped him. When I was sad and told him I missed his father, he said “Mama, he is right here with us”. A child’s freedom to see all dimensions, spiritual as well as physical, is a gift we all have but tend to suppress as we become socialized. I am so thankful that we instilled in him the belief that all things are possible.
I always thought my role was to love my son, to protect him, to teach him values and to make him independent. Many times when he was showing that independence I wanted to say ” because I said so”, but I would catch myself. My parents were very loving although I got a few whippings , but I always knew they loved and cherished me. I hoped to instill that in my child.
I caught myself getting upset when my son was behaving poorly or being rude. I had to” count to 10″ many times but knew in my heart, that handling this with a negative emotion was not going to solve the true issue. I tried to discuss what was really going on with him. Sometimes we could get to the heart of the issue, but restricting activities was necessary occasionally to get the point across. He would usually apologize after pouting for a while. Many friends told me I was too easy on him, but I knew my child, and did not want to squash his independence and quest for learning.
I suggested my son try sports. The only ones he tried were ones his friends were doing, except horseback riding. He enjoyed it but after a year was done. His second year in high school , he decided to join the Debate Team. This proved to be something he was passionate about. No wonder, he was always encouraged to ask questions at home and to think about his decisions. This was his idea and he loved it. Parents encourage their children to participate in sports which teaches many life lessons,but it is truly something the child wants or some thing the parent wishes they had done themselves? Ask yourself, what’s wrong with imaginary play, music, etc ?
When he went to college last year, I received several texts from him, telling me how much he appreciated and loved me. The senior year of high school was very trying, but he realized after living on campus , that his home was different than many of his friends. He told me he was mad at me for making him move and go to church , 4 years after his Dad died. He thanked me for sticking to my resolution, even though it made our relationship strained. He realized now that the move made him the person he is and it changed his life to the better.
It is too easy to punish a child when they act up, rather than think, what is the real cause. It can make a parent feel they have not done a good job raising the child, or that the child is purposely trying to aggravate them. In some ways this may be true, the child wants you to pay attention to them and pushing your buttons may be the quickest way to get there. All children need and thrive on their parent’s love and support. An unloving statement made in the heat of a situation, can stay with the child for many years. Do you remember anything your parents said to you that still haunts you to this day?
Our children are here to help us on our spiritual journey as much as we are here to help them. Take a moment when something unpleasant happens and ask what is really going on here? Your love and guidance can be the most influential aspect of your child’s life.
I found this a good YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ap9DaeIQMNI , Dr. Shefali Tsabary, TedX talk San Francisco.