Perhaps it takes courage to raise children…
Our youth can’t possibly know how age thinks and feels. And likewise, as we age we are often guilty of being so busy-brained that we forget what it was like to be young. Spending time with my young son helps me tap into my younger mind — he keeps me on my toes. For that I am grateful, but I still struggle as a parent. I struggle to be present. I struggle to be patient. I struggle to remember. Almost every single day.
Truth be told, every parent battles with parenthood in their own way. Because parenting is not easy.
What helps me is journaling about the lessons parenthood is gradually teaching me, and then referring back to what I’ve learned when I’m struggling and forgetful.
Today, I want to share some quotes from my parenting journal with you. Perhaps they will assist you someday, the way they have assisted me again this morning…
- Trust yourself. You know far more than you think you do.
- Parenting is unquestionably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but in exchange it teaches you about the meaning and power of unconditional love.
- Everything involving your children will be painful in some way. The emotions are deep, whether they are happiness, heartache, love or pride. And in the end they will leave you vulnerable, exposed, and yes, in pain. The human heart was not meant to beat outside the human body, and yet you will find that your children carry with them just this kind of surreal phenomena — a loving, emotionally attached parent (YOU), with your heart exposed and beating forever outside of your chest. Breathe… It’s OK.
- No one is ever quite ready — every parent is caught off guard, again and again. Parenthood chooses you every day, not the other way around. And perhaps a week in, a month in, or even a year in, you open your eyes, look at what you’ve got, say “Oh, my goodness,” and suddenly awake to the fact that of all the things there ever were to juggle, this is the one you should not drop. It’s not a question of choice. It’s a presence of love.
- The nature of being a parent seems thankless sometimes, until you realize and embrace the fact that you are choosing to love your children far more than you have ever loved anyone before them, even more than you love your own parents. And, within this realization that your own children can’t possibly understand the depth of your love, you come to understand the tragic and yet immensely beautiful, unrequited, unconditional love your own parents have for you.
- Being a parent is a daily attitude, not a biological relation.
- To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to make time to be in their lives today. Every day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. The more present we are, the more deposits we get to make.
- When you take the time to open your mind and ears, and actually listen with humility to what people have to say, it’s amazing what you can learn. This is especially true if the people who are doing the talking also happen to be your children. (Read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.)
- Your children are the greatest gift life will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility it will place in your hands. Take time with them, and teach them to have faith in themselves by being a person they can have faith in — a person who listens — a person they can trust without question. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.
- Walk the talk. Children have never been perfect at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them in some way.
- Your children need you to love them for who they are, not spend all your time trying to fix them.
- Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
- Parents can only guide by example and put their offspring on the right path, but the final forming of a person’s character and life story lies in their own hands.
- All details aside, if you have never been “hated” by your kid for a short time, you have never truly been a parent. A harsh truth, I know.
- It’s absolutely impossible to protect your children against disappointment in life. Some things you just have to live through to learn.
- One of the best things you can do for your children as they grow is to let go and allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong and responsible, allow them the freedom to experience things on their own terms, allow them to take the bus or the train and learn from life firsthand — allow them to be better people, allow them to believe more in themselves and do more by themselves. (Note: Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- No matter how great of a job you do parenting — especially if you truly do it right — your children won’t stay with you. They will eventually break away. It’s the one job in life, where the better you do, the more rapidly and surely you won’t be needed as often in the long run.
I want to end this post with a famous quote by Walt Disney that I’ve always loved:
“Children are people, and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows.
Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him or her from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil.”
Now, it’s your turn…
Marc and I would love to hear from YOU before you go.
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