By Jennifer Richardson
What are some of the qualities we need to be good parents? There is no training manual, guidebook, or definitive set of directions that applies to every child or circumstance. I surely do not have all the answers, but after being parented by wonderful parents, and twenty-seven years of being a parent myself– some wisdom rings true.
Courage. This is a must for the heart-stopping fear of the unknown. And, we need to have the guts to be hated, for the moment. Into every parenting life falls some discord, and the odds are strong that we will be resented by our child if we stand our ground about any issue where the child needs to change. Take heart, they come back around if they know we love them.
Patience. One of life’s great secrets is to never be in a hurry if we can help it. And settle in, this parenting thing is never really done; it just changes direction over time.
Joyfulness. Inner joy is a necessity to answer the sometimes deep pain of those we love. It also helps provide an example of how to make our own weather and carry it with us, no matter what circumstance we find. Without even recognizing it, children soak up the concept that we can change our attitude, even when we cannot change our surroundings.
Belief. This is the general state of knowing our child can always learn and get back up after a fall. For our child to believe this as well, it requires a generosity of spirit that allows for true assessment, but not judgment. This faith gives us the strength to meet the faces of those who may not see the progress our child is making and keep on keeping on. And if we don’t believe in their ability to learn and relearn, it is unlikely our children will believe in themselves.
Humility. We all fall short and need grace. Accepting help is sometimes the best option, and sometimes someone else has just the wisdom you need. Facing our own shortcomings gives us the understanding of the compassion that is needed to forgive failure in our children.
Calm. A commitment to being even-handed and steady even in the midst of storms teaches a child more about self control and inner strength than any amount of parenting words we would ever speak. This calmness also encourages the gentleness it takes to hold on loosely but not let go.
Resiliency. The emotional roller coaster of parenting is almost endless. On any given day we may feel the piercing ache of watching our child in pain, or the giant pride of watching them succeed, or even hatred for those who hurt them. At every point on the spectrum of sensation, we have to be able to bounce back to center with our feelings so our children experience a predictable source of stability.
Generosity. If we spend our time engaged only in pursuits that are centered on ourselves, we will produce children who never move past the naturally self-absorbed atmosphere of childhood. They will grow old, but not up. Give. And let them watch you giving.
Dedication. This is the steadfast commitment to never give up despite the loneliness of knowing the outcome is a reflection on us, and accepting the delayed gratification in realizing that your work takes a lifetime. Our devotion needs to include the recognition that we may never fully understand the objects of all our efforts.
Love. Any parenting delivered without a child’s understanding that it is because we love them, is just a hollow command to be discarded when we look away.
Parenting requires the wisdom of Solomon, and the acknowledgement that success will mean we are no longer needed. However, there is also great satisfaction in knowing that prudent parenting tends to replicate itself for generations to come.