It’s common for parents to commiserate with each other regarding the challenges of raising kids. Though the task is overall an arduous one, it is the most significant and meaningful life experience most of us will ever have.
I see Parenthood as a Blessing. Regardless of whether one biologically delivered the child, parenthood in all it’s variety of ways that we come upon it, is truly a second chance for us adults to learn. The teaching moments we may have slept through, as often adults do while under the thumb of careers, responsibilities, stress, and the like, arrive again as a wake up call, challenging us to now listen, lest we miss it again.
- Humiliation dampens the puffed up ego— Kids have an organic way of hitting the bulls-eye in situations. They get to the root of the matter in seconds, where it may take us adults a while beating around the bush, or we may get lost in political correctness. I recently blogged about one such experience in “A Teen’s Brutal Honesty.”
- Humor and fun are essential to happiness— We grown-ups take ourselves far too seriously. We need to lighten up, make fun of ourselves, our expectations and even our struggles. This doesn’t mean we don’t work on the things in our lives that need work. It just means we can take a break from them. Just like the body needs sleep to rejuvenate, humor is a rest stop from our woes and stress.
- Simplicity— This cannot be overstated enough. Simplicity. We adults work so hard to corrupt our kid’s natural sense of equilibrium and balance, which are vital constituent pieces to simplicity. Adults usually pack so much activity in a child’s day, that it’s not unusual for them to be up past midnight trying to complete homework. Or as someone recently shared, his son didn’t get home until after midnight on a school night due to his baseball game.
- There is no fear, no limits— That is until we adults introduce our psychosis, misperceptions and superstitions. We pass on our nonsense, our own sense of limitations and fears that have kept us small, and threaten to do the same with our children. Kids don’t know they “can’t” until they learn it from us. They watch and listen to our actions and speech. They learn to self-doubt, and fear failure by watching how we react to our own, and how we react to moments they don’t meet our expectations.
- Connecting with others is essential— Children are naturally relational and seek communication and bonding with others. They move toward other children on a playground and think nothing of playing with strangers. They don’t avoid closeness nor intimacy, as witnessed by them hugging or kissing children and adults alike. They are welcoming and open to all kids, regardless of demographics. They smile, laugh and work alongside others in the sand box.
- No barriers to friendship— Children don’t know differences until we spike them out. They don’t arrive prejudiced and ready to bully. These are all learned behaviors. They love everyone, unless they pick up a creepy vibe from someone (a reason why not to force them to hug someone they are not comfortable hugging/kissing, or requiring them to accept affection from someone they do not want it from). If there were no racism, no hatred, no separation, the world would look like a playground with no adults present.
- Curious, not complacent with staying put— They have to investigate and try new things. Everything is new to them. They don’t shirk away from new and different, in fact, they are drawn to it. They reach out to touch different. Of course as adults we learn to temper this with discernment so we don’t get seriously hurt, however, adults go overboard and temper this so much that fear replaces wonder, and it drives away curiosity and exploration—Not to mention creativity.
- Always in the midst of growth— Kids are constantly metamorphosizing, shedding a prior stage and entering a new one. Each new stage brings new growth. They embrace it so naturally. They do not run away from it. They don’t hide in a sea of denial. You’d never hear from a baby done with the crawling stage, “Hey, I’m comfortable scooting around on my belly. Walking? Who needs that! It's too much work. I don’t like change. I think I’ll stay where I am now. Hey, if I’ve survived this long without doing that, there’s no need to learn it now. I’m perfectly content with where I'm at. Leave me alone.”
- Offer clarity to what’s essential— They already know the value of a hug, a kiss and have no qualms about giving. Typically for adults, it takes tragedy to drop us to our knees, bringing us face-to-face with what is essential. Short of that extreme, if we approach parenthood with eyes wide open, it will in essence do the same without bringing the sorrow.
- Gift unconditional love— They have nothing but love for the parents and people in their lives. It isn’t until we shoo them away, mistreat them, demean, demoralize, shame, that holes get shot through the fabric of unconditional love and what emerges is a rugged, jagged, jaded, cautious, dysfunctional canvass. Otherwise, they are natural givers. They lavish hugs and kisses. They lavish attention on you. They draw things for you and give you a present, “Mommy look what I made for you today!” Or “Look at what I found on the playground for you!”
- Time is extremely valuable— By observing children grow, we experience the fleeting nature of time. In the blink of an eye, they are grown. All the more reason to put the work away and give them your attention. Kids organically yearn for our time. Spending time with us is essential to them. They prefer that to most anything else. If we don’t give it to them consistently throughout their development, when the teen years arrive, they will revolt and already have developed substitutes for our time, as a coping mechanism. Time is a vanishing resource—It cannot be replenished if squandered.
- Their attention exists in the present moment—Kids naturally know the importance of grabbing hold and making the most of every moment. Lost in wonder, they focus on the “now” experience. They don’t worry about a tomorrow or yesterday. What’s happening now is all that matters.
I often hear parents say, “You have to keep kids very busy so they stay out of trouble.” I understand that too much unstructured time on their hands can create opportunity for trouble. But the extreme opposite will only set them up to fail. Balance is everything.
Everyone needs time to breathe. Kids are no different. If we listen to them, they already come equipped with the understanding that peace and joy are foundational. However, adults rob them of this foundational balance by inflicting busyness into their lives. Many of these kids will grow up to be the adults who develop anxiety issues, or who spend countless dollars in desperate search of their lost joy.
How often as adults do we find ourselves wondering, “Where did my joy go?” The spa & travel industry bank on adults having lost touch, and now in their later years realizing how significant it is to have balance. Thus, willing to pay top dollar to seek it in everything but where it was originally sourced.
Let kids be your guide to what simplicity looks like. You can regain your joy as simple as that, and without corrupting their natural balance.
What if we were to entertain the possibility that our children can accomplish anything they want? What if in so doing, we did the same for ourselves?
Thank God for the tenaciousness so integral to an infant, child, and teen; otherwise where would we be in our human evolution? Sadly too many adults get to a point of complacency (lazy that is) and swim in denial the rest of their lives giving excuses for not trying on change, nor inviting growth. The first few years of life we grow exponentially physically, mentally, and emotionally. And then something happens. As if we’ve reached the top floor of our evolution and decide to get off, not realizing there are hundreds more floors to traverse. We are satisfied with average—the standard balcony view— when we could go to the penthouse.
Why not today, do something child-like? Why not dream something possible? Why not “act as if” you had no prejudices and stereotypes? Who would you approach and let in? What if you could be curious about anything? What might it be? If you were to simplify your life so you could make room to touch joy, what might it look like?
Wishing you all many child-like wonders today and always!
Ella VeneziaCopyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.