My daughter is celebrating her 19th birthday this week. It is an exciting time for us both. Can you imagine? 19 years! Sometimes, when I try to remember her crawling on the floor or saying her first words (which was early, very early), I have only vague memories. She is so big now (she is taller than me, but that is easy), yet she is still young and acts like a child. She is so mature, yet she is naïve.
Our kids’ birthdays are a wonderful way for us to take stock of our parenting. Every year, they grow and mature and learn about themselves, we do too. We learn about our achievements or our challenges and it makes us better people, better parents.
I always thought that parents have this “love gene” in them so that they love their kids no matter what. When kids are babies, it is easy to notice this. Parents love and express their love for their kids whatever the babies do. They are not afraid to be over protective, they are not afraid to be proud when their baby makes a tiny movement, they are not afraid to act silly or to be considered soft.
But something happens to many parents along the way. When being proud was the greatest feeling on earth in a kid’s first year, the excitement about their achievement gradually fades. What was considered “normal” (like most special education professionals, I get goose bumps from this word) when your kid is just a baby can be embarrassing when they become teens. Parents of teens are afraid to be considered over protective, they are afraid to be proud of their teens for anything that is not major, they are afraid to act silly and to be considered softies.
I find it a problem and here comes the chicken and the egg question.
Are our babies happy and jolly because we are proud of them or are we proud of them because they are happy and jolly?
I discuss this with many of my parent coaching clients and I believe it is us making them like that. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Kids are just mirrors of mom and dad. I am sure it is the chicken in this case.
Pride is a selfish feeling. It is the reward we give ourselves for the love, the dedication, the heartache, the fears, the support, the caring, the worries and the sleepless nights (although I did not have too many sleepless nights with any of my kids). On every Journey we need rewards to help us keep moving forward. In parenting, pride is the best reward. It helps us convince ourselves parenting is worthwhile.
This week, when my daughter is turning 19, I choose to reward myself with a poem she wrote when she was 16 as part of a Year 12 assignment (yes, she finished high school at the age of 16). It was a great assignment about identity and she chose to present it on a piece of wood shaped like a hand. She picked a hand because we all have a unique hand print that is only ours and is part of our identity. She added photos of people that shaped her identity and flags of the countries she lived in (by her 14th birthday, she had lived in 7 countries around the world, visited over 17 and went to 8 schools). She added words from the poem you are about to read. This poem is a reminder of how wonderful she is and how happy she made our parenting.
This I Believe
– Eden Baras
- I believe in FAMILY. The healing power of Mum’s hands
- I believe in having fun and enjoying life
- I believe a good book can work wonders when I’m sad or angry
- I believe watermelon is the best
- I believe that singing along to a good song can cheer me up anytime and that people are predominantly good, no matter what anyone else says
- I believe my sister is the cutest being on Earth and my brother is a genius
- I believe in true friends and honesty
- I believe it’s all about motivation
- I believe in subjectivism because who else’s eyes can you see things through?
- I believe in morals and good upbringings
- I believe you can choose your destiny and that the glass is usually ‘half-full’
- I believe in the importance of good self-esteem and individual style
- I believe everyone is different, but I believe that’s a good thing ’cause otherwise life would be kind of boring
- I believe the world is a big place and there’s heaps of it I have yet to explore
- I believe you can do anything, if only you believe and that dad is always there for me, no matter what.
Walk like a peacock every day and your kids will give you great reasons to spread your beautiful feathers even more.