There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There is no job more important than parenting. Before you go all up in arms over that statement, let me explain. Yes, there are important jobs out there. There are doctors, firemen, policemen, and astronauts, all of whom are important to society. Still, parents have the most important job of all because they shape the next generation of important contributors to this rock called “Earth.”
I’m not famous, nor are my accomplishments. My contributions to the world are not marked by grandiose achievements, like Nobel Prize-worthy scientific findings or finding a cure for cancer. My greatest accomplishment is raising my son. He’s my contribution: a caring human being to add to this ever-changing world we live in.
Raising a child is life-changing, and parenting is a tremendous responsibility. To be a good mother or father, you must sacrifice because parenting is about putting your child’s needs ahead of your own. I’m not saying that you should neglect yourself, but the minute you lay eyes on your child, your focus shifts. You make sure your that your child is fed, clothed, bathed, and cared for.
You set the pace on who or what your child becomes, and teaching a child how to navigate our world while instilling emotional intelligence is a lifelong gift. Your children may not notice or thank you for all of the sacrifices you made, but nothing you do for your child is wasted. Education, knowledge, and hard work are essential parts of life. The reality is that what you teach your children reaches far beyond your household. It extends to the people they meet and their lifetime of interactions.
Preparing our children to be good adults is a daily struggle. We worry. We plan. We stumble. We reinforce good behavior. But most importantly, we lead by example. Our children are always watching and learning, so think twice about your actions. Every action, word, facial expression, and gesture sends your child a message about how to behave, so plant the seeds, and watch them blossom.
I’m not a parenting expert, so I do not have all the answers. Still, here’s what I’ve learned on my journey of parenthood.
- Being a good parent is about being true to yourself.
- Think before you speak. Children mimic what they see.
- Have integrity. Do the right thing… even when no one is watching.
- Teach reverence for all living things, from bees to trees to dogs to humans. All living things need care. All lives matter.
- Reverence and respect go hand in hand. When you teach your children to respect you and those around you, they learn to respect themselves, too.
- Teach your children to be creative. Explore. Play creative games. Let your child’s imagination take them on a journey.
- Read! Read to them, read with them, and teach them to appreciate learning.
- Teach them to be strong in spirit, to not give up easily.
- Be present. Listen to your child. When they talk to you, stop whatever you’re doing to show them that they have your attention.
- Be consistent. Having a routine gives children stability.
- Embrace failure. Teach your child that failing comes with many valuable lessons. Teach them to accept their mistakes and strive to do better next time.
- Give your child autonomy and choices. Learning critical thinking skills help them later in life.
- Teach your child to accept themselves and others for who they are. No one is perfect, and that’s OK!
- Be patient because being patient teaches patience.
- Be supportive Praise your child for their accomplishments. Teach them to feel proud of themselves.
- Celebrate the the skills that your child excels at. Some kids are athletic, others artistic, and yet others are gifted in math or science, but every gift matters!
- Have fun! Make time for the activities that matter. Put chores on the back burner, so you can have fun!
As parents, we instill values in our children in hopes that one day, they will become meaningful members of society. It never ceases to amaze me how a child can help me focus on the important things in life. Don’t forget to see the beauty of life through their innocence.
Spend the time with your children while they’re young. Don’t waste a single moment. The cliché, “They grow up so fast. Time flies,” is absolutely true. So savor every moment, instill every life lesson you can, plant your seeds, and watch them blossom.