Archive for life

Each Child is Different, meet them where they are…

Each Child is Different, meet them where they are

Photo Credit: Victor Cristian Mitroi, Flickr.com

The oldest of my five children, Nick, who is twenty-seven, and my second son, Allen-Michael, twenty-one, could not be more different from one another. Because they were raised by the same mother I just assumed the boys would be more alike. Though it makes no sense to expect this since I now understand each child arrives in the world with his own temperament, sets of challenges, and lessons for us, and a unique destiny to pursue as well.

Over the past few years, having made the shift from thinking and “do-ing” my parenting from a place where I was in charge of the teaching of my children, to the daily practice of the concept of their teaching me has been the wildest, yet most enlightening/rewarding journey of my life.

When I let go of my expectations (even those I would not have verbally acknowledged) and simply met my sons where they were, my world opened up.

For instance, Nick has been challenged with addiction to alcohol. He has battled this disease (some days more so than others) since he was fifteen years old. Almost five years sober at this point, he doesn’t attribute his recovery to faith in God or any other Higher Power. If you ask Nick he will say his fear of going back to jail is what keeps him away from any bottle. Nick does believe in God, but doesn’t actively pursue a relationship through church attendance or in his everyday life. He was raised Catholic (I will admit, inconsistently), but doesn’t care to make time for spirituality or religion today.

Allen-Michael, on the other hand, who was also raised “inconsistently Catholic” has had an increasingly close relationship with God since his teen years. Calm and easy-going from the day he arrived in the world, he avidly pursues daily mass, mission work, feeding the homeless, and even contemplating the priesthood. Allen-Michael feels very strongly about the gospel and looks to the lives of Catholic saints as inspiration for his own.

It appears to be too early to tell what role faith and religion will play the lives of my youngest three children, but they continue to be raised in the same way by a mother who often verbally and through her actions places more value in the intuition of a higher calling and a purpose greater then oneself than on the structure of any denomination or book.

What I love most about the different ways in which my children approach life is their ability to show respect for, and tolerance of one another choices to take a path different from their own. Knowing, above all else, I have helped create an environment for that to happen in is very gratifying.

What do you say and do to foster a sense of individuality in your children?

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When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

Photo Credit: Uncalno Tekno, Flickr.com

It’s been said when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive. At forty-six I have enough life experience to comprehend the truth in this statement. I also understand the teacher can come in many different forms and show up in both our most challenging and our most triumphant moments. Upon reflection, I can say with conviction my most valuable lessons have come through twenty-two years of marriage and in parenting five children.

The role of wife and mother have taught me what it means to be part of a committed relationship and, even more important, how little control I have over anyone but myself. While there are myraid ways I have witnessed this throughout marriage and motherhood, the most pivotal lesson came several years ago during a crisis with my eldest son (at the time in his early twenties), and his addiction to alcohol.

It was that particular journey which truly opened my eyes and heart to the essence of what it means to be a parent who loves unconditionally. Prior to this walk I believed I understood the importance of limitless acceptance, in hindsight I know it was (at times) merely lip service and not a thorough understanding or true appreciation for the gifts our children can be in helping us develop into our best selves.

Obviously how we parent our children on a daily basis is very important. But, in the end, we must take care to remember we do not have the authority to direct the outcome of the life they have been given to live. In other words, children come into the world through us, we are chosen to guide them and assist their efforts to work towards their life’s purpose by creating an atmosphere conducive to their growth.

This, in and of itself, is a wonderful gift. We [as parents and grandparents] can choose to take the gift to the next level and remain open to the continuous learning we receive through our children’s journey. For example, once I understood the magnitude of my son’s alcohol abuse I could have spent a lot of time blaming myself or someone else for the challenge. Or, I could have recoiled in shame or guilt for considering myself a horrible mother. Instead, I chose to pray for my own guidance in assisting, supporting, encouraging, loving and learning from my son through the process of his recovery.

There were times when even that was not enough. The epiphany came when I woke up one morning and understood I was not in a position to control the outcome of his battle with alcohol, I was only in control of how I responded to the situation that presented itself to me.

Each day provides opportunities to learn, and people to teach. The question is…are you teachable? If so, look no further than the children in your life to show you exactly where you need to grow.

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