I’ve had the honor, and I do mean honor, of sitting with more than a hundred(!) families and talking about their child. I’ve laughed with parents, cried with parents, strategized with parents, and offered reassurance. I’ve encouraged some to be more strict and instructed some to relax. I’ve explained their children to them, and they have explained them back to me. Those conversations were so intimate. Talking about the most precious thing in a parent’s world brings about a deep sense of vulnerability and in turn connection. I’ve never taken any of those conversations or relationships for granted.
Some of those parents, however, really stand out to me. The ones that I seemed to connect with the most were the ones who were just a little bit disconnected. In a good way. Here’s what I mean. They were able to stand just slightly outside of the circle that was their child’s life. They were not quick to defend their child’s “areas of opportunity.” They could handle watching their child be challenged, struggle, learn. They extended a hand in partnership. They acknowledged that I might know a few things too. They were humble. They could laugh at their child and occasionally roll their eyes. Their child was a treasured part of their world, but not the center of it. Their expectations were high but not unrealistic. They followed through with promises and with consequences.
These parents remain models for me, and in turn for us all. As we welcome this new year and we set our minds and hearts on what is ahead, we can carry their lessons with us. We can remember that there is power in stepping back. There is power in hearing things that are hard. There is power in having things to work on. There is power in balance and in partnership. There is power in putting our children at the heart of our world, but not having that world revolve around them. There is power in humility and in acknowledging there is room for growth. For them and for us.
I think of these parents more than they realize, and I strive to be like them. They are wonderful examples of the art of parenthood, and all these years later, I am forever grateful that they crossed my path.
Find the joy,
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.