Its true children don’t come with their own personal instruction book explaining how to raise them. No, parenting is very much a learning by doing experience. I’m sure that sometimes children wished their parents came with instruction books too!
From the moment River was born I felt simultaneously in bliss and over-awed, in bliss that this precious little being was ours to love and nurture, and over-awed by the responsibility to ‘get it right’. By get it right I mean parent him to be the best that he can be.
River turned seven a few weeks ago (we celebrated with sushi see above and a bonfire), and I can feel and see the shift in him from childhood to boyhood. I watch him taking the world in, soaking up every nuance of life and the people around him. He is hungry. Hungry to learn, hungry for life. At the end of this next seven year cycle River will be fourteen and heading into the heart of his adolescence. I am conscious of giving him every opportunity, now, at this age, to grow in his confidence and capabilities.
As each birthday comes around for my children I find myself reflecting on the ways they’ve grown and how Pete and I have grown in our parenting. Or not grown. Its a good time to be mindful about what needs some work.
Over-thinking things is something I've done too often in the past, including how to parent. I’ve learned to let that go and found a happy place of being mindful rather than overwrought with analytical thinking that leads to second guessing myself.
I approach parenting with the adage ‘begin with the end in mind’, that is, think about the men and women you’d like your children to become and lay the foundations from birth. Pete and I want our boys to have respect for themselves, for others and for the world they live in. We are raising them to use their initiative and to realise from a young age that they are part of a bigger picture and that starts with contributing in our home.
I look around at the young men and women I know and am curious about how they have been parented, I ask their parents for tips and advice and file them away ready to put into practice.
The biggest obstacles I see on the path of parents and their children in these times are technology, fake food, and added to that for teenagers is the alcohol culture that has become an unfortunate excuse for a rite of passage. How to deal with these obstacles are posts for another day.
At this moment, in this season of my parenting I am filled with joy watching my boy’s personalities and passions unfold. River the actor, fisherman, surfer, guitarist, such a social being, always asking ‘what I have to eat mum?’ Sol the artist, painting daily is his meditation, colour and drawing held his attention from a young age, lost in imaginary play, boundless energy from the moment his eyes pop open, such physical strength, in awe of his big brother.
I am also challenged and tired by hearing ‘no!’ from them and when they squabble and whine.
Above all, I am beyond grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to parent these boys and to do so with Pete who is a wonderful father, who is fully present in every sense of the word. The three of them challenge me to grow, to be the best I can and to dig deeper. Even when I feel exhausted, thinking I can dig no more, I find more and I thank them for that.
Where are you at with parenting? Share your tips and experiences in the comments...