Ever since Christmas, my husband and I have been having fairly indepth conversations about our business and our strategy for this year. These chats always include an investigation into the meaning of life and our “purpose” (if there is one). Most recently we have examined the desire for “success” and what is meant by that term in our culture. This has led me to examine how even parents have to “succeed” and what this looks like and the impact on our children.
At its most basic, we spend time not working in the best interest of our children, but in the best interest of how we “look” as parents. This is a fairly repulsive idea, and perhaps some of you are denying that you do this. It is ok, I can admit to it. As a fairly simple example, my daughter is pretty much a tomboy and chooses to dress herself on a regular basis, which does not make for a visually pleasant outcome. I have negotiated with (read: manipulated) her to change what she is wearing so that she looks half decent. Who am I doing that for? Obviously, me. Wouldn’t it be more useful to allow her to continue to express her independence and individuality? Yes, is the answer.
Being a successful parent can also mean ensuring that your children attend all the “right” events. Are they booked in to swimming lessons, the local football, cricket, dance classes, karate, tennis or whatever else is accepted or expected socially? I have decided that my children are only going to do those things that they show an avid interest in and to be honest, I don’t have any preferences as to what that might be. My son is showing an aptitude for dancing so I am currently encouraging that and letting him know what is available. Meanwhile my gorgeous girl is fixated on karate.
Spending time thinking about how I am doing as a parent and what other people think of me or my children, really is time that could be much better spent focussing on loving them, compassion for others and just having a good time together. All this talk of “success” in relation to our business has made it easy for me to conclude that life is all about the relationships we have with each other. How much compassion and love we give ourselves and others, what difference we make in each moment.
Where else do we have such an opportunity to make a difference if not in the way we raise our children, the values we instill in them, in the love that we give them. Be great at it and enjoy yourself.