PureInsight | April 5, 2004
[PureInsight.org] A friend told me this story when her daughter, Emily, had to begin taking allergy shots. She took the girl to the doctor's office where Emily refused to be "needled" for the second week in a row. The mother said, "I called up my anger, looked at her sternly and ordered her to bare her arm and take the shot."
"Emily," she said, "glared at me with her big brown eyes, sat down, exposed her arm and exclaimed, 'I am not afraid of the shot, but I am afraid of my very own mother.'"
We frequently encounter situations with our children where we have to insist on our way of doing things, for their safety, their health and security. But do we always have to have our own desires for our children's future fulfilled? How important is success and what kind of success are we envisioning for our children? What legacy do we want to leave them? How do we as parents measure success? Have we succeeded if we have kept our children healthy, safe and content?
When a child goes to a prestigious school or college later on, is that a sign of parental success? If a child achieves prominence in a chosen profession, in earning capacity, is that the ultimate measure of success? Is a child considered successful if s/he grows up to be more handsome, more popular and talented than his/her parents? Is it called success if a child never runs away from home or never gets in trouble with the law? Is it deemed success to stay married to the same person? If we measure parental success with those yardsticks, we are deceiving ourselves.
Do we consider it failure if a child is unable to read by kindergarten age or simply does not "get" simple math by age nine? My oldest daughter had a hard time with multiplication tables until age ten. (Einstein was a complete mathematical disappointment during his grade school years.) Where do we draw the line between our noble expectations for our children's future and what society considers desirable? How do we prepare our children – and ourselves – for the myriad of small daily disappointments that all of us have to cope with? Here is where tolerance is immensely helpful.
Our children can drive us to distraction with their emerging need to demonstrate their autonomy. We have to develop a feel for the right amount of praise and reprimands. It is probably better to praise lavishly for a deed well done and largely ignore the bad. When I raised my children and later taught school I quickly learned to "separate the deed from the doer" and keep perspective. But, nevertheless, we cannot forget that our children, particularly during their formative years, learn from our examples. They keenly observe and imitate how we conduct our lives on a daily basis, and how we interact with our spouses, extended family, friends and neighbors and all kinds of other people. To show truthfulness and compassion are forever noble attributes in these interactions.
The greatest legacy we as parents can leave our children is to set strong examples of upright living. A great aid to accomplish this endeavor is the marvelous book Zhuan Falun, by Mr. Li Hongzhi that teaches any and all who will take the time to read it the secrets for a successful, well-balanced life and how best to leave an awesome legacy for our children.
In our quest for parental success we may not want to count every single day as the most marvelous example, because we are human and occasionally prone to slip. If we would not slip, we would already be saints. But, failing occasionally does not make us failures. Success is the action of getting up when you fall down, dusting yourself off and keep plodding along an your chosen path, until you reach your destination. Our children will thank us!