Part 3 of 3 in a series on parenting.
If only we could compliment each other—if indeed compliments are due. The whole time I have raised my child I have gotten about 3 compliments about my daughter’s behavior. Each has brought me to tears. Perhaps I need more than others but the lack of enjoying each other’s children speaks to me about the joylessness of our communities. I give it constantly, hoping to change the environment.
There is nothing wrong in giving more to your child than you had. More advantage, parenting with greater insight, feedings healthier foods. But if you come to resent these pressures, feeling like they are ingrates, or that no one really understands you; you may have lost the plot of your life. Someone else, much less someone who is searching for his or her inner adult, cannot run the plot of your life. Being in charge of your decisions, treating yourself and a whole flawed highly competent person is probably the best you can do. Finding passion in life, trying to be kind to others, and apologizing when you are not—if this is what comes naturally. That is what your child will learn. In the end, you can’t fake love.
Recently my daughter said something I found puzzling.
She said: Mommy. How do you get so many people to love you?”
Me—I thought—I feel lonely. I am shy. And then I realized the truth. The mother she sees pushes through her own shyness to show her daughter how to connect. The first day of kindergarten Penelope and I marched in. I was quaking, she was uncertain. I scanned the group and quickly saw a shy child, clinging to her twin who was in the other classroom.
“See that little girl, darling?
Go to her and ask her name. She looks nervous and I bet she would love to make a friend.”
Public service turned out to be a cure for the most severe cases of treatment-resistant anorexia. Feeling useful and helping others raises our self-esteem and grounds us in a sense of efficacy and community. As I watch my daughter and her friends, I realize they seem more able to connect with each other than their jaded and worldly parents.
To read the part 1 of this series, click here. To read part 2, click here.