I recall reading somewhere (though I do not remember where otherwise I would have quoted it here) that
our children are here to teach us something about life.
Wise words, indeed 😉 ?
I am often reminded of this when parenting challenges arise, such as when I ran out of solutions or strategies to deal with a situation, or when I feel less confident of my ability to parent well. They occur essentially because, notwithstanding my best intentions, my expectations are not met, or my preferences are not respected, or my rules are not adhered to. I cannot recall a time when conflicts were due to unruly or destructive behavior or dysfunction. So I wonder what triggered me and what I needed to learn? Taking ownership of and responsibility for my perspectives, and seeking to understand, to seeing through different lens are exciting and confronting.
In the many years of parenting, “I wish I had paid more attention” or “I wish I could have done more” are familiar friends. And I suspect I am not alone on the parenting journey often filled with uncertainties.
Sometimes I wonder what will become of my children, who are children no longer. Pride accompanies me as I look back at all that they have achieved. And I marvel at the lessons they have taught me. It is as if the universe is saying, “hey, are you noticing?”
One of them (and I have only two children 🙂 ) opened my eyes to the experiences of being a guy, both privileges and challenges of living the socially constructed gender of “boy” and then “man”. Life was easier for him as he gained confidence of his place in the world, of his right to stake his claim on what’s on offer. He makes no apology for who he is or what he wants. The price – he has to mask his emotionality and his gentleness behind masculine norms in certain circles, whether they are perceived to be helpful or otherwise. His apparent manly strength comes with a price tag. Through him, I am more empathetic to the plight of man, not just woman.
I see the guys who are only trying to do their best, despite being conditioned to accept certain “truths” and to live in a certain manner, just as women are also conditioned. This is not an excuse, but a call to be inclusive in our compassion, kindness and generosity. [And I can only imagine the challenges encountered by persons who identify as non-binary.]
And now, from the other child I am learning about vulnerability; more accurately the narrative of vulnerability. I have come to realize how insidious this common narrative is, and even now still has its grip on my psyche. The time and effort spent feeding this story of vulnerability as a weakness, something which must be hidden, gets in the way of connection and relationship. It inhibits personal growth.
As I make a conscious effort not to hide my vulnerability (and merely act out in fear or shame), but rather to observe its arrival and allow myself to be honest with my feelings, I hope it will also provide an avenue for teaching and learning. I will have to trust that I have done enough – and this in itself, being vulnerable to something beyond my control.
Even as these young persons grow and develop, establishing their identities and lives separate from mine, I cannot help but still have the occasional desire to nurture and protect them. And I suspect this feeling will not be leaving anytime soon. 🙂
Hold the hand of the child within you. For this child, nothing is impossible. ~ Paulo Coelho
In courage and love,
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