Thursday, December 01, 2011

What have your children taught you?

That was a question posed recently in a parenting group I've joined. I imagine that broadly, people would say things like "patience" or possibly "humility" (something I was thinking, the other day, upon learning that a couple expecting their first child had chosen a parenting manual they intended to follow if children follow operating instructions).

But the first answer that popped into my head was actually literal. My 4-year-old is currently obsessed with how many letters are in different words. So I now know that "Philadelphia" and "Pennsylvania" both have 12 letters. I also know that 2 "Jasper"s make a "Philadelphia." These are definitely things that I never pondered before.

My children have, perhaps, tried to teach me patience in their often aggravating fashions. But I do know they have taught me a lot about time, and whether I am spending it on things that matter or not, and that you can do quite a bit in small bits of time. Someone was describing to me the other day that they need long, uninterrupted periods to write. My children have taught me that, at least for me, this is not the case.

What have your children taught you?


Annie said...

Gee, where do you start? My children have taught me to trust my instincts implicitly and have the fierce courage of my convictions. They've taught me that children are not born as tabula rosa. They come into the world with glimmers of personality and preferences that will become more ingrained with time. I might be able to direct them a little, but I cannot change them. (Nor, in the end, would I want to!!) They've taught me time and time again that, when things seem to be going very badly, I can be wrong. (For example, my son who seems to be off in the clouds but repeats the details of what I was talking about months later in a different context.) Those are the few that come to mind immediately, but I'm sure that it the tip of the iceberg.

Anonymous said...

I'm a perfectionist. Raising a child has taught me to tone down that trait and accept that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. I could never do the Tiger Mother thing tearing up birthday cards because they weren't good enough. I've listened to countless hours of violin practices and made positive comments and I've checked over scads of homework assignments and made positive comments with an occasional reminder to use nicer handwriting.

Coincidentally, my daughter is also a budding perfectionist. So I tell her that its okay to get an occasional B as long as she did her own best work. Actually, its better to take hard classes knowing you might get a B than to choose easy A's and learn less. And its okay to be third violin in her orchestra; she doesn't need to be first (and maybe third is a safe, comfortable place to be where she can enjoy playing without the pressure of leading the section). She's a happy teenager now (and no, "happy teenager" is not an oxymoron) who thanks me for not being a pushy parent.

Anonymous said...

Yes, as Annie said. My children have taught me to trust my instincts and gut, and to take experts with a grain of salt.

I may not know all, may not be able to fortell the future, but I've gotten better at recognizing garbage thinking.

Anonymous said...

"What have your children taught you?"
Easy... They've taught me to sleep with one eye open for my own protection.

Heather said...

My children have taught me that being embarrassed won't kill me!