This article is about what I have learnt from my parenting experience. I am a 30 years old the father of 3 children, with the oldest being 19.
Before I get started I would just like to share that it’s not me in the picture, it is my youngest son Archie when he was just a year old (he is now 9), also I was not 11 when I had my first baby. I met someone when I was 19 years old, who had a 7 year old and a 4 year old, however, I soon took on the role of father which had many unseen challenges I was not ready for. It would be 2 years later that I would become father to my son Archie (from the picture), and the complexities would evolve even further.
I went from young, wild and free- to young, wild and not having a clue what I had gotten myself into. This was over 10 years ago now and I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned from parenting that others may benefit from.
It Is Hard
This may seem obvious to many, but not so much for me. I thought I could breeze through parenting without to much resistance, but it was a lot tougher than I had envisioned. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful thing- but sometimes you just want to sleep, eat, go out or do something, and the call comes to clean up poop (or worse). Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things a person can become, but also comes with a real need to assess and evaluate who you are as a person. Children, in part are little reflections of us. So when things don’t run as smoothly as we would like, it can also bring up unhealed (and sometimes buried) issues that we are carrying.
Habits Are Hard To Undo
I had a lot less awareness when I was 19 than I do now. Things such as diet, medication for certain issues, and habits to fill the moments when you are not busy can come back to bite you in the backside.
With food, you really need to foster good habits in your own life and in turn your children will do the same. If you are making any big decisions such as, should I medicate my child, you should really look into non invasive methods and possible side effects first. And often putting them on the iPad for 5 minutes while you get some rest can turn into a longer term bad habit.
It is a lot easier to not have these habits in the first place, than to have to stop them from doing something you later feel is not in their best interest. Something I learned (and am still learning) the hard way.
They Have Their Own Agenda
Poet Kahlil Gibran said it well in his book “The Prophet”
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Our children are a part of us and are heavily influenced by the surroundings they grow up in, however, they also have their own wants and likes. I think our job is to learn to spot these wants and likes and facilitate the space for them to be able to follow them.
There are the obvious exceptions such as sticking a fork in the plug socket and playing kick Daddy in the privates. However, I do feel we should hold the space for our children to be able to follow the things that make them happy should they not harm others in the process.
They Are All Different (So You DO Treat Them Differently)
Taking care of 3 children (1 girl, 2 boys) really shows how different we all are. Just because children grow up in the same house, does not mean they will be in any way similar. This is not just true at home, but with life in general.
Different personalities show us the need for different treatment, in my opinion there is not a one size fits all approach for being a parent. This needs a flexibility that often increases in complexity the more children you have. Being able to adapt to the personality of your child is very important, and this often means one will be treated differently to another.
This is of course very different to favoring one child over the other, but some children need more attention and others need more autonomy. Most need a little of both at different periods of development.
The Teacher Student Relationship Is Reciprocal
It is probably well agreed upon that as a parent you have some degree of responsibility to be a good teacher to your child, however, if you are a good teacher, the relationship will be reciprocal
A child in the isle of a supermarket crying as they would like to buy a blue energy drink will either break you or bring out a certain level of strength you didn’t realise you had. Sometimes you will make mistakes, sometimes you will do the wrong thing, but over time you start to see yourself not making mistakes you did in the past and this can be how we grow from parenthood.
Its Okay To Be Sorry When You Mess Up
When you spend enough time with someone they will see both the best and worse of you, this includes your children.
You can apologize for mistakes when they happen or years later when you realise you have made them. We often want to teach our children that they should be sorry when they make mistakes, but it works both ways. It is never a bad thing to apologize and learn from your mistakes.
You Can Never Love Your Children Too Much
I am just going to be open and say this is totally my opinion, but I feel you cannot love your children too much. From babies all the way up to adults, our children often just need to be loved without judgement.
This can manifest in many ways (including tough love), but often a hug and an ear is enough for our children. I often lay in bed with my 9 year old son giving him the biggest cuddle and just listening to him tell me about his life. If he needs the same thing when he is 20 I will be there. Kids need love, as we all do!
This article is just my understanding of parenting, from the perspective of a parent who admittedly has made mistakes. I hope it can help those who maybe are feeling like there best is not enough, because I want you to know that it is. Please share this article. Much love, Luke.
I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here