It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.
I don’t know what planet I was on when I thought that when I became a parent, all the skills I’d need would simply come to me. It wasn’t long before I realized that parenting, for the countless incomparable joys it has brought into my life, is hard work. Being a parent has meant adjusting my aspirations and priorities to match my new reality. Every day is a learning process as I adapt to the evolving needs of my children.
Children keep us in check. Their laughter prevents our hearts from hardening. Their dreams ensure we never lose our drive to make ours a better world. They are the greatest disciplinarians known to mankind.
—Queen Rania of Jordan, HelloMagazine
If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
No one ever promised me it would be easy, and it’s not. But I also get many rewards from seeing my children grow, make strong decisions for themselves, and set out on their own as independent, strong, likable human beings. And I like who I am becoming, too. Having [children] has made me more human, more flexible, more humble, more questioning.
When seen only as presiding over a child’s growth, parenting can be frustrating and burdensome. However, when seen as an opportunity for personal growth for adults, parenting is one of the most creative and affirming experiences that life offers. It gives us chances to improve ourselves and broaden our own personal horizons as we model for our children the qualities we would like to see in them. For some of us, our own children give us a chance to become the parents we wish that we had.
—Jack C. Westman, M.D.