You are kind. You are smart. You are important.
Those inspiring words, paraphrased from the bestselling book “The Help,” summarize what parents desire to impart to their children. Being kind is to love, and that is the purest emotion. Being smart is recognizing that people have choices, and simply being alive means we’ve chosen to grow. When you’re important, you realize you’re accountable for your actions, feelings, and thoughts, and that nobody can take those away from you.
After I became a parent, I read an article on a parenting blog about what fathers thought of fatherhood. A line from that article has not left me since the day I read it. A father was asked what he learned about parenting from his own father. His answer really hit home for me:
“He taught me that parents forget about themselves to do what’s best for their children. Success in life could not possibly compensate for failing as a parent.”
What an amazing statement. Before my son Joseph was born, my husband and I talked about what type of parents we wanted to be. We discussed the hopes and the dreams that we had not only for our children, but with our children. He told me that he’d turned down a prestigious career move years ago so he wouldn’t be forced to choose later between work and family. Many people in the working world face that choice. But one of IBM’s corporate mottos is, “Family first.” We do this in our family. We put our family first.
I’ve faced some challenging choices in my life. But as difficult as they were, I’m thankful for the opportunities they presented to me. I know the Universe has good things ahead for me. I know I’ll face more difficulties in life. I also know I was given the life I have for a reason. I’m thankful for the strength I have.
Much about my life has been difficult. But nothing’s going to keep me down. My family gives me reasons to carry on.
I’ve been pregnant five times, but I’ve only held two of my babies in my arms. On many occasions I’ve asked the age-old question, “Why me?” I know the “why’s” don’t always get answered. Sometimes we get answers to the “how’s” and the “when’s,” but not always in that order.
All five of my babies have been a blessing to me. I can’t lie; I do miss the opportunities that each of them represented. But I know deep in my heart of hearts that I gave them the care and love that they deserved. I’m grateful that I helped them learn the lessons they were meant to learn in our brief time together. I’m glad I gave them the unconditional love they deserved.
How you grow after you become a parent is almost immeasurable. One author explains it like this: “Making the decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” No truer statement has been made!
I don’t think you can possibly realize how much your parents love you until you’re a parent. I love my littles, Joseph and Dianna, to the moon and back. They really are my whole world. I cry when they cry. And I laugh when they laugh. They are part of me.
I’ve had many parents approach me in the past few years seeking advice or help regarding their children. We seem to forget that our children are us, just smaller versions. Though small, they deserve all the love and respect that we can give them.
When I write about showing children love and respect, I really mean we need to teach them what all of us need to relearn:
We are kind. We are smart. And we are important.
When we get those basics down, life does become easier. When you struggle with challenges, you need to ask yourself these things: Are you acting from a place of love and kindness? Are you smart enough to realize you’ll be accountable for what you do? Will you choose a life of importance and integrity?
Each of us struggles with those things. We struggle because we’re human, and we’re on a sharp learning curve. Thankfully, we have our parents to help us find our way.
Our parents teach us that there is goodness within us. We are merciful and have understanding and compassion. We are joy, light, and energy. We have courage, strength, patience, and forgiveness. We can heal, teach, and comfort others. We have deep wisdom and know high truth. We are the grandest love and the greatest peace. And we have our parents to show us the way. The ways they choose to show us will be different for each one of us. But they have chosen. And you chose them, too.