Tuesday, June 10, 2014

If a Child Lives With......

On a recent episode of Chopped, one of the contestants was so scarred by his childhood, that even as a professional chef he never felt he was good enough. He was harder on himself than the judges and the irony is that what he was presenting was really good.  He won the competition that night.

I felt sorry watching him because even though he appeared as an adult, he presented himself as a child still waiting on his parent's validation. His back story was that he had a military dad who was very hard on him; nothing he did was good enough. He left home at 17 and never looked back physically, but was always looking back mentally. He never blossomed.

Parenting is hard. There are guidelines and principles but then each child is different. Sometimes as parents we think we are doing right by our children, but if we stepped back we may see that we are not. Times are different - when I was coming up I felt I had no choice but to do what my parents wanted. However my personality is and was such, that I never felt beaten down or less than by their demands. I did hate getting a beating, so I made sure that I avoided this punishment as much as I could. When I became a parent, it became apparent to me what my parents in particular were dealing with and what it means to be a parent in general. Parenting is hard.

There is a poem called Children Learn What They Live and there is one line in particular that resonates with me, which I've highlighted below.

Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 - 2005)
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
BUT (I've inserted the but since positive attributes are highlighted from this point on)
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
The need for encouragement never ends for both parent and child. I have realized this as I see my young adults navigate this world. And if it is all I can do to encourage them, then that is what I will do. I know how good it feels to receive encouragement; as a parent I will do my best to encourage my children.

What have your children lived? Does this poem challenge you as a parent?

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