Raising responsible and compassionate adults is a huge, life impacting responsibility and a great privilege. Sometimes it feels like the job is way too difficult, and other times it’s the greatest joy imaginable.
I asked several parents who are on the other side of parenting (their children are adults now), for any insights they may have for raising responsible and compassionate adults. And this is what one mom wrote. I thought it was worth sharing so I asked for her permission to share it. Here it is…
Forgive me for the delay. I have been reading and thinking.
For one thing, you have covered off many of the really important concepts that if parents actually implemented at least half of them intentionally, their chances of producing solid human beings that they could have a good relationship with in the future would be greatly increased.
As I read many of the insightful and informative bits, I realize how little I knew, how many opportunities I missed, how much I really did screw up. Ouch.
I wish I would have entered into that phase of child rearing truly realizing that what we as adults perceive as the element of “selfness”/selfishness is just part of the developing package. Feeding into circular debates/arguments at certain junctures in their teen years was not for the purpose of resolution but pushing for what they wanted or just flexing their muscles. I got sucked in a lot. Attempting to manipulate them with emotions was pointless, it just irritated them.
I would have liked to know that, according to some research, it is more necessary for a girl to separate from her mother than a boy. That would have explained some of the more intense and irrational clashes that bewildered me. I would have liked to understand better that it is normal to have who you are and how you do things scrutinized, sometimes seriously criticized and compared.
Turns out that who they are today is not who they will be 2, 3, 5 years. All the good investment often does bear incredible fruit. All the stuff you freaked out about, didn’t come to pass.
I would also emphasize just plain old fashioned “presence”, time in, an awareness that you are there and available and that you are switched onto the culture.
I would also note that there’s times when it is simply important to speak something into the air, as it were, just coz it needs to be heard by them. They may not like it, it might be awkward for you but the words need to get computed into their brains to mull over. The parent may be the only one ever willing to say it.
Give them permission to not be like you and don’t be hurt if they aren’t.
And finally, find ways so that they really know you are their no.1 cheerleader. Stay firm with boundaries, but open to adjustments and be fair in that they know what is expected of them.
Say sorry if you need to.
Home should be a place to want to be, not escape from.
Read: food, friends welcome, rides generally anytime/anywhere without complaining.
All the stuff you mentioned.
I think there is truth in the addage of “just getting them thru it.”
I’d love to be able to have another go at it !
One more thought, Jeff. I feel like a lot of what I mentioned seems based on fear, or at least has a negative slant.
I let them know that I actually liked them and enjoyed their company.
There were a lot of laughs. I took whatever time they were willing to offer me. For example, [our oldest] loved chilling after school and watching “just for laughs”, a Canadian prank show. He’d always say, “mum come watch this.” That was about a half hour. Then he’d go do his own thing.
I get now that that was his way of connecting with me… The shared laughs. He has since been in the habit of texting me random jokes, riddles during the week, coz we get the same things.
Glad I sat down!”
A lot of wisdom and nuggets of advice from a mom whose been through the teen years and survived! Let me know what you think in the comments below!