Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
I share these things to encourage parents with young children to stop and take inventory:
1. I wish that I had known how much the small things matter. It is amazing what my grown children remember – that look, that tone, the “no” that should have been a “yes” – but I was too proud to correct myself. I thought they wouldn’t remember, but they do. I could have admitted right then that I had made a mistake and asked them to forgive me, but I just let it go.
2. I wish that I had lived more authentically with my children. I pretended to be stronger than I was, and I think they would have loved to have seen more of the real me rather than the “strong, always-in-control mom.”
3. I wish I had relaxed and realized how quickly the time would pass. I was SO serious about parenting that I did not take the time to enjoy my children. I believe we all would have had more joy if I had taught them the beauty of living in the moment.
4. I wish I had offered them a wider variety of opportunities to travel, explore, take lessons in areas no one else was exploring, and pushed them to take more risks. I was too protective and didn’t realize that holding them close was more about me and my needs. They often took their cues from me, and I wonder what I could have helped them achieve if I had focused more on pushing them out instead of holding them close.
5. I wish I had listened more and talked less. My children are amazing adults. I think I could have been a much better parent if I had listened more to them as they developed. I listen today and marvel. If I had listened earlier, I think I could have learned more about life as I brought them up. I was a misguided young parent who thought I had to have the answers. We could have navigated through some things together, but I always carried the weight of figuring it out on my own instead. I was too afraid that I would fail them, so I kept a stiff upper lip and tried my best to have all the answers. I have learned that it is okay to not know every answer.
I have never met a parent with grown children who feels that they made perfect decisions. Yet I have met many parents who see that their grown children are close to perfect in spite of their mistakes. I am one of those parents. My children are fantastic human beings—they are amazing spouses, have become great parents, and are well rounded, successful adults. I couldn’t love them or enjoy them more, and no one could stand to be around me if I were any more proud of them. So in spite of ME, they turned out just fine. I hope you remember this on those days when you think you are getting it all wrong. Love your children, stay connected, be genuine, and keep trying. They will probably grow up and amaze you.