Why should we talk to our children?
There’s an anecdote about a New York taxi driver and a priest. Both died and went to heaven. Saint Peter allotted the priest a modest house and car while the taxi driver had a beautiful mansion to live in, a stretch limo to drive him around in short the whole nine yards.
Aggravated the priest demanded to know the reason for such gross miscarriage of justice: “I have spent my whole life in prayer leading people to God and this taxi driver must singlehandedly be responsible for most of the car wrecks. Yet he is treated special here. Why is that?”
“Son it’s not what you do- it’s the result of what you do that counts!” replied Saint Peter. “When you were sermonizing people were asleep but when he was driving everybody was praying.”
So is it with parenthood. It is the result of what you do that will eventually count.
If employers, television, school, child psychologists and such myriad self-appointed experts on children had their way parents would only foot the bills while they ran amuck with our child’s life.
Trust me if God did not want us to groom our children– be their caregiver, their friend, their guide- if God did not want us to experience one of the deepest, purest, and richest sentiments of the heart- He would have foregone the whole parent child bonding experience and we would have birthed miniature adults instead.
If you have ever been trained to respond in emergency situations, you are told to delegate responsibility by name so the situation gets handled efficiently without wasting time or creating chaos.
While Mrs. A dials the police, Mr. B will call the ambulance and Mr. C will… you get the point.
Well the first expert on mankind was also the first to put this idea to practical use.
I trust this convinces you that your role as a parent is just not to contribute to the gene pool biologically.
You are also the custodian to the greatest treasure there is on earth. If one man can change the world, then you, the parent, hold the key to open sesame.
Longfellow talked about leaving footprints on the sands of time. Our children are the legacy we will bequeath earth. It should imbibe in us a strong sense of duty and even pride that God has considered us worthy of the task.
The why, the purpose is clear, how then should we walk on the road ahead?
My best bet is as a caretaker. Stewardship is vastly different from ownership. Neither are all owners stewards. However the custodian mentality is self-evident.
The moment you step into a house you know the thought process of the person maintaining it.
A true caretaker lives in the house and develops a personal relationship with it. He cleans, dusts, and makes sure all the fixtures are functional. He takes pride in the upkeep of the house. His vigilance is unceasing. His seasoned eye can tell friend or foe. He protects the house from vandals. He scares away those who would pluck a flower from its garden or steal the fruit from its tree. Be it a mansion or a two room apartment- the caretaker does not judge it but seeing its potential tries to bring the best out of it.
He does not own a brick in the house; he never earns any credits from the house just his paycheck.
His satisfaction stems from knowing his job is well done. His work ethic is his sole job guarantee.
As should a parent be. We ought to develop a personal relationship with our child not just trust the biological equation to hold us together. A daily maintenance is required for an inanimate house. I believe the same equally important for a living, growing, ever changing human being. We should take pride in our child’s achievements no matter how humble and celebrate each milestone that’s important for them.
Our seasoned eye should be able to detect friend or foe. Even if we fail to detect, our child should be empowered so he can share his fears or feelings honestly with us. We are the safe harbor where our child can tie his boat.
No matter how our child we should not judge. So what if she is not as witty, as funny, as brave, as clever, as skilled, as beautiful…
Let’s remember- neither are we.
Nor is our child’s life an extension of ours. His dreams and his aspirations should be validated as his individual choice. So what if he fails?
We should be the fireplace our child can draw her chair close to on a cold, bleak, wintry day. The shoulder she can rest her weary head on.
The last thing our child should feel is that they have to earn our love. Equally important is neither should we feel we have to earn our child’s love.
The undisputed fact that God chose us to be our child’s parents should be adequate endorsement needed in our life. Let’s not think we are a political candidate in our home out to win the popularity vote.
That’s the fundamental flaw with democracy. If a political party has to win popular mandate- in lieu of advocating policies that are right for its citizens it will promote policies that make the party popular.
Popular policies ensure the government will be re-elected.
But think, what will it cost the country and how about long term?
There was a teenage boy who grew his hair long to test parental limits.
As expected his father bluntly told him to get a haircut. However the defiant boy refused. A month passed and the boy wanted his parents to buy him a car to commute to school.
“Sure,” said his father, “just as soon as you cut your hair.”
The son protested. “I was reading about Jesus and even He had long hair.”
“Keep reading further son,” replied his father, “and you will learn that everywhere Jesus went He walked.”
Progressing thither from hither will take your time parents and proactive skilled communication.
- Do not delegate parenting
- Develop a stewardship/ caretaker/custodian mentality
- Do not try to be popular with your child. Instill the right values, principles and morals.
Always talk to your children
Even when they were small babies in bassinet I was told to talk to my children as I would to an adult and explain to them in boring detail what I was doing and why I was doing it.
Frankly at the time it sounded weird and heck it felt weird to tell a three month old staring at me with a blank expression that mom was dropping her to a babysitter for two hours so I could be at a business meeting and I was building the business for our family. I was investing time now when she was small so when she grew older I could be home full time to spend quality time with her.
I do not still know how much she understood but her babysitter told me she was the easiest child to care for.
I recall my parents talking to my brother and me, incessantly. They talked of the house they were planning to buy. How they were considering each property the realtor presented on basis of a list of pros and cons. I remember them asking our opinion on where we would like to live, how we would decorate our room, what color to paint the walls and such sundry details that seemed to have no direct import on my life then.
Fast forward to years later when my husband and I were building our home. So many of those conversations played a vital role in how I made my decisions. At one point the architect asked me how I could visualize the kitchen I wanted in such precise detail.
Talk about everything and anything. Have no fixed agenda. A lot of academic discussion goes into how to spend quality time with your child. I am still not clear how you can determine what time will be quality time for your child unless you have some super soothsaying skills.
I would suggest spend loads of time with your child and let the child select later what was quality time.
Sometimes I am sure my children are bored when I launch into sermons on values I cherish that I want them to inculcate in their life. There are no politically correct subjects. Nothing is taboo. I talk on religion and why the religion we follow is our conscious choice. I talk about kissing, on what to expect when a menstrual period starts and when the time comes I will talk about bees and flowers and not as euphemistically. I have no objection to getting my hands figuratively dirty if it is all for a good cause- my children.
Talking is a daily habit
If you habitually ignore, sideline, embarrass your child every time you open your mouth you will not overnight transform into this oratorical version of Mary Poppins. Over a lifetime you will learn after making many mistakes who is your child and how best you can communicate with him or her.
There will be no guidelines, no book of instructions, and no parental manuals. Just you and a gut knowledge of what has worked in the past and will likely yield results in the future.
Feel free to feel silly even moronish and enjoy the eye rolling and the jokes at your expense but keep on keeping on. Change what needs to change. Talk to your child. Discuss this article with them. Let me know your and their feedback.
I think a child is very worthy and deserves from us the best we can be.
A setback is not final, nor fatal but never attempting is
My teacher would often tell this Hemingway story Capital of the World about a Spanish father who wanted to be reconciled with his runaway son. He put an advertisement in the newspaper that simply said, “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”
But Paco is a very common name in Spain—and when the father went to the hotel the next day, there were eight hundred young men named Paco waiting to be forgiven!
Where seven hundred ninety nine goofed up one father got it right. Do not live with setbacks of yesterday, guilt over things never said or done. Keep striving to connect with your child.
Talk, laugh, act the clown, hug, kiss, mollycoddle, correct, reprimand and ask for forgiveness- just never, never, ever give up.
Give your heart free rein with your child. It is but this one opportunity to experience pure, unconditional love and leave a darned good footprint.
I think of the poem Footprint where man is reprimanding God. “If we both walked together all my life how come I see just one set of footprints every place I faced danger, heartbreak or disappointment?”
God replies. “My son, the footprints you see are mine because all those times when you were weak I carried you.”
If God, our creator, thinks no honor greater than to be called our Parent, then what’s confusing us?
© Ruby Mohan