Raising kids is easily one of the toughest – and best – jobs. Few other roles can make us cry with appreciation and shriek with aggravation in the same two minutes. Parenting is like a Dickens novel – it can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times. But what if there were something we could focus on in those tougher times that remind us how to be passionate about parenting and still love our kids?
In talking with thousands of parents over the past many years, I think I can summarize their collective perspective in how to still love our kids even when they drive us crazy. Try to remember these 3 things as you look into their eyes and want to shake your head in disappointment, frustration or anger. Hopefully these will help you stay focused on the power, value and benefits of being a parent.
- Our kids are a work in process. No matter the age, these beings are figuring out how to be human in our world. Our process of learning is one of trial and error. We try things – some work out, some don’t. Sometimes it looks like a wonderfully behaved kid as you stop to chat with a neighbor, or a kid in meltdown mode in the cereal or cookie aisle at the grocery store (and this isn’t just when kids are little…). We learn how to be in our world based on the feedback we get. We are always learning because there are always new situations. It happens to us; it happens to us. How can seeing that your child is a work in process, help you not be disappointed when things with them aren’t perfect
- Our kids have amazing and unique potential that is our job to help them discover and develop it. Our kids are unique – even those in the same family. No two of us are alike – that means they each will have something unique and amazing about them. They each will be good at and love some things and not others. They will each have potential that doesn’t look like any other. Some will be great in math, others will soar in technology. Some will love animals and others will want to live in the mountains, or paint, or build a business, or give tattoos, or act. Some will want to travel and others will want to live next door. Each is different and their uniqueness is their guidepost to finding their way in today’s world of choices. Our greatest role is to help them see what is amazing about them and help them learn how to build their lives around what they do best and are most interested in. They then can soar, fly and become the greatest versions of themselves, without regard to who we want them to be. How can you remember that your role is to help your child discover, develop and live what is best in him, and to use it to find his way in today’s world?
- Our kids teach us as much as we teach them. Don’t see this as a one-sided relationship; our kids have so much to share back with us. Tune in to what they say, do and notice – they are great at reminding us what we forgot. As we became adults, we lost a lot of the love of life – of showing up and living full out, of appreciating the little things, of noticing the important things. We learned to fit in instead of to stand out. They can remind us of what matters in life, because our world has changed our priorities for us. They can help us return to ourselves in the way that we can help them find their way in our world. Seems a great partnership. What do you regularly learn from your kids?
When your kids are challenging, stop and notice them. Look at their potential. Look at how they are still evolving. And look at what they have to teach you. In that moment, you can shift from the worst of times to the best of times.
What an amazing role we have to help another human being discover, develop and live who they really are. With such a great mission, why would you expect it wouldn’t have any challenges? Keep your cool and remember you are helping another amazing being find their way, even when they drive you crazy.