Conversely, how is it possible to give birth to a helpless, loving baby and when all is said and done the adult they become is mean, hateful and generally disagreeable?
Is it something in us at birth that determines the person we will become in spite of surrounding influences. I do not mean a nature/nurture debate per se because I think it is something more than genetic or primal. I wonder if it is something spiritual or karmic speaking to one's essence.
My parents always said that I was their 'happy baby' and I can say that that general mood has prevailed. I feel it to my bones; a gratitude for my family, my friends, the opportunities that have unfolded.
I see this in the children I teach. The inner core of the person they will become is already evident.
Of course outside influences play a huge factor. Our families, culture, society, opportunities, etc. all mingle together to support or eat away at our developing personas. And this brings me back to the point of all of this: How do parents foster positive relationships with their children and in what ways can they ensure that their children will grow into well adjusted, happy adults?
Let's take a look towards my mom for this one.
Never one to push her views on anyone she quietly teaches by example. She exemplifies what it means to be a model others can emulate. Here I am in my 40s and her subtle messages are still unfolding.
- Do not judge. As with any family there comes a time when disagreements arise between a parent and a child. When I dyed my hair blond and it came out orange my mom smiled and said "Isn't that interesting". When I decided that I wanted to go to New York University to study acting she (and you too dad) dug in her heels and did everything possible to make my dream a reality. No words about it being a difficult career or perhaps I should go in another direction. Just "what do you need and how can we make it happen".
- Let them do what they want. Here is where that ol' lovely demon pops in...guilt. My mother has never, never made any of us feel guilty about choosing to spend time with our friends over her, for not staying home, for not calling. So what did we do? We brought our friends over to hang out, we stayed in, we called. Well, not always but her understanding went a long way towards building positive life-long friendships with each of us.
- Acceptance and Understanding. And if there were things she couldn't understand she at least accepted them until she could. What more could you ask? And in return we did the same thing.
- Let them see that you are human too. Parents are like Gods to young children, at least mine were. As children grow older that changes. Sometimes drastically. But sharing emotions, thoughts and caring in open conversations allowed us to see the person behind the role of parent. Of course, I never went through a rebellious period but I see that having an open door policy in terms of communication can keep some situations from spinning out of control.
- Love them!
Lead by example.
Simple and utterly complex. Hopefully one day I will get to try this system out for myself from the other side of the looking glass. Until then, I remain ever watchful.
Oh, and keep lots of cookies in the cookie jar!