If you are not sure, keep reading.
Parents, like most people, often view the world in absolute terms – “This is pretty”, “This is wrong”, “This smells good” or “How rude!” Naturally, the way they view their children is similar. They break each child down into separate properties, such as looks, math skills, strength and manners, and assign a rating or a score to each one of these important aspects in each child.
The result is disappointing more often than not, simply because nobody is perfect in every way, let alone kids, who undergo big changes and have not mastered every rule in their parents’ book. This is particularly apparent during the teenage years, when even calm and obedient children turn into full-sized, defiant and opinionated creatures. Many parents of teenagers are so focused on what their sons and daughters are not doing (right) they have a hard time remembering how they behaved last year, when they were still in primary school.
But your kids are the most precious, amazing and wonderful things in the world.
First, consider the odds of any of them being born at all. Out of thousands of potential partners in your life, you have chosen only one to have each child with. That child would not be the same if you had chosen anybody else.
Out of hundreds of eggs and billions of sperm, only one sperm combined with one egg to produce each child. The odds of having that particular child with those particular physical traits and basic character make winning the lottery seem like a sure thing.
Even if you have not had any major disasters during pregnancy, delivery or babyhood, you are likely to know parents who have. When Ronit and I lost our second child on his second day (see 35-hour baby), we were crushed, because we thought nothing like that would ever happen to us. When our third pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, we could hardly breathe and wanted to scream. But as people came to comfort us, we learned just how many parents struggle to conceive, to carry babies to term and to keep them alive and healthy during their first year. Even with modern medicine and biotechnology, making a new child is harder and fraught with dangers more than most people realize.
Once they are born, kids start to learn about the world around them. They start out having on control over their body and thoughts, and their only way to learn is by noticing the responses they get for different things and deciding whether they like them or not. They grab something hot and it hurts, so they drop it. They lick something sweet and they like the taste, so they lick again. They cry and Mommy or Daddy pick them up and make them feel good, so they cry again.
Oh, wait. What was that?!
Yes, whether you are aware of it or not, your behavior towards your kids is one of their strongest learning tool. You know that when you make an angry face or yell, your child will get the message that you disapprove of what he or she has done, but when they come crying after someone has hit them and you scold the other child, do you think that will make them bring more of their problems to you? If you do this consistently, do you think that will make them think it is OK to throw their problems on other people?
So for better or worse, your kids are amazing learners, picking up the smallest cues from you as to the best ways to behave. They become so good at it that they know how to get sweets or money out of you and to get you to drive them to friends and activities early on a cold winter Saturday morning. Yes, it can be annoying, but they have learned it all from you (and your partner).
In fact, kids are little mirrors, both physically and emotionally. When you look at them, you see yourself and your partner. You like in them what you like about yourself or your partner. You dislike in them what you dislike about yourself or your partner.
This means that the more you like about yourself, the more you like about your kids. Imagine that!
But if you look at your kids and yourself as flexible creatures that adapt and grow, you see that you can be the power behind that growth and you can direct it to wherever you want. In other words, you can choose to like yourself more and to appreciate your kids more.
You see, the main reason your kids are the most precious, amazing and wonderful things in the world is that you created them. This, of course, also makes you the most precious, amazing and wonderful thing in the world, even if you are no longer a child.
Of course, your kids already know how wonderful you are, because if you ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” they will most likely say, “I want to be like Mommy/Daddy”.