Raising Children: Does it Really Take a Village?
While being responsible for raising another human, or a few other humans, is the ultimate task, what are the main qualities necessary to ensure ultimate success? Well, in my opinion, there are none.
Nothing that you do as a parent can ensure any absolutes for your child, because at the end of the day, your child is their own person, who will grow to make their own decision. No matter what you do, or how well you do it, nothing is promised or guaranteed. However, there are few qualities that I think all parents should embody, in order to provide your child with the best chance at being a kickass person.
While patience may be a virtue, it is a necessity when it comes to parenting. You’re child is going to have questions.
LOTS of them.
Some of them so important that they’ll need to ask you 15 times over. While it may wear you thin, asking questions is a good thing. It means they are curious.
It means they want to learn. It means they crave truth. As we age it is often easy to forget where we come from, and where we have been. It’s easy to forget that one day, we were curious children who’s hearts ached when an adult made us to feel inferior. When an adult made us to feel invalidated. You are the most important adult in their life, so don’t be that one.
Other times, they’ll need to make the same mistake twice, or 20. It’s important for parents to remember that these repetitive, tedious, and seemingly meaningless blunders are anything but that. They are your child’s growth.
Though it can be frustrating, and even painful to watch helplessly as your child appears to falter time after time again, just remember that you are witnessing them become the resiliently wise person that they will one day be.
For obvious reasons, this is a tough one. I think a lot of parents tend to view trust in relatively skewed way. I do believe that in most situations trust is built, especially with your child. They definitely have to prove to you, and themselves, that they are capable of earning more and more forms of trust.
While you clearly want to be able to trust your child while they are a teenager, and facing new types of dangers that require high amounts of certainty, there are less tangible forms of trust that I believe are just as important. You should want to trust your son to respect women, just as much as you want to trust him to not drink and drive.
You should want to trust your daughter to be inclusive and kind to other girls, just as much as you want to trust her to not experiment with drugs. Being able to trust that your children have been instilled with generosity, thoughtfulness, graciousness and empathy, should alleviate those other fears associated around distrust. In addition, a parent must be able to trust themselves, and the job that they’ve done in encouraging their children to be the best people that they can be.
I think it’s safe to say that they’re few bonds stronger than that of a parent and their child. You share the same DNA. The same mannerisms. The same blood. It is easy to be consumed by love for your child, just as it is easy to be consumed by fear for your child.
From smothering moms, to helicopter dads, parents often forget that while they are a part of their child, they are not all of them. There is so much more to a human, than just their parents.
To the parents reading this, I promise I’m not being cruel.
I promise that I’m not invalidating the blood, sweat, and tears that you have poured into raising your child. You are one of, if not the, biggest influencer in your child’s life. However, you are not their end all be all. And, I have some news for you as well: they are not yours. Having a child is so beyond life changing, that it is often easy to forget the life you had before. The life that you still have. Your life.
Of course, changes and sacrifices are necessary when bringing a child into the picture, but to what extent? Giving up your dreams, aspirations, hobbies, joys, self-care, and individuality isn’t healthy for you, and it certainly isn’t healthy for your child.
Your kid wants someone to look up to. They want someone that they can aspire to be. They want a hero. They want to know that anything is possible, and that anyone can truly achieve anything they put their mind and energy toward. Most importantly, they want you to be happy. And while it is a nice and fairytale-like notion, no one will blame you for finding happiness in something other than your children.
Life is short. And one day, your kids will be off discovering their own, making sure they do their damnedest to live it to the fullest. So rather than sitting by idle and watching them make their dreams come true, be confident enough to chase your own, knowing that you can be proud of work you’ve done, and the child you’ve raised.