There are many things we pass to our children either through intentional life lessons or by the modeling of behaviors and values. We are constantly teaching whether we realize it or not.
I am sure that there are things I am teaching my daughter that I would rather she not learn – like not loving your job. There are other things I am modeling completely without awareness that I am doing so. We have all been on both sides of that coin – hearing our words come out of the mouth of a child or *shudder* hearing our parents words emerge from our mouths! It is natural. When you live with someone and spend loads of time with them, it is easy to pick up on their sayings or attitudes or behaviors.
For the big things, I try to teach through modeling. I show her respect, am open and honest in our communication, stay as balanced as possible, show compassion, embrace life, and live as fully as possible. We read. We exercise. We take care of one another.
I probably go over board on some issues – no one person is better than another. Everyone brings something to the table. I have a feeling that my daughter dreams these statements; I say them quite often. I also can be heard reminding her – Do your best (because it isn’t whether you win or are right or are better than the next person, it is about being all that you can be), If you say “can’t” you are never going to be able to do it (This is her least favorite, I think), and Give it a go (because if you don’t, you will never know if you like it or not).
At school, the teacher is attempting to have her slow down and work well with other kids. I think that she has the more difficult life lesson to teach! As accommodating and easy going as my child is, she is also naturally a tad goal oriented. An assignment is given, she believes that this means that the assignment will be completed. Over spring break, her reading book selected a 200+ page book. The Diva completed the book in the requisite amount of time. The rest of her reading group is still reading so… they aren’t having reading at the moment. (I am concerned that this teaches that assignments are not to be completed, but… who knows) The same has happened with her spelling group – some kids don’t finish their packets so, they don’t move forward; they don’t take the spelling test and move to the next section.
The Diva takes the project seriously. She does her best. She checks and reviews. She finishes timely. These are important to her.
The teacher is now grouping her with kids that don’t finish their work, move more slowly, and who work differently than the Diva. The idea is to teach her to work with others more effectively. The idea is to help her work through the frustration and anxiety she feels when others don’t do as required. (her instinct is to just do the whole thing herself – which she has done) I am not sure how this lesson will play out, but it might be interesting to observe.
The thread of this post is not my daughter really. It is the lessons. Some of us consider parenting and the lessons that we teach. We determine, at some point, the basic values that we want to show our children; that we will model for them. We consider our own childhoods and take the lessons that we learned – keeping some and throwing out others. This sounds very planned and controlled, but it really isn’t. It is more about deciding the person you are and the parent you are. For me, these thoughts allow me to parent with integrity. I am not trying to model or teach something that I am not in the very soul of my being.
Do I sound process oriented or what! I am actually a conceptualist; a pragmatic person who is much more easy going than this post appears.
So easy going that I am quite laid back when it comes to allowing my daughter the room and the space she needs to find herself and discover who she is.
With all the craziness that is going on in our lives at the moment, I have questioned many of my ideas regarding parenting – do I give her too much freedom; too much information; talk to her too much???
Then I open my heart and remember – life is crazy. Despite our need and desire to have control and to pretend that everything is exactly how it appears; it isn’t. Life is about uncertainty on most every level. I can’t protect my daughter. I can give her the ability to make choices and decisions. I can provide her with a few things that are certain – that are exactly as they appear.
“She knows you love her.” A friend told me last Friday as I explained all that is going on. “What is the best way for you to love her?”
That one was easy to answer – to let her live, to let her be excited about the world that is unfolding before her eyes, to ensure that she knows that the world is all about uncertainty and… that is okay, to surround her with unconditional love and compassion as she explores that world, and to respect her by giving her the information that she requests – the information that will allow her to move with confidence and love.
Just as I have modeled for her, she models for me. As I ponder the future and what awaits my little family, I look to her for guidance and for an example. She is ready to take it on! Eyes open, my daughter is demonstrating a love for life and a courage that inspires me to remember how much life there is out there to live when we are fully engaged and open to whatever comes our way.