It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
Our kids have the power to change us.
One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is seeing the parts of ourselves we dislike expressed through our children. It sure is enjoyable watching our children mirror the qualities we enjoy such as, an extroverted disposition, generous nature, or passionate support for a favorite sports team.
However, it is not quite as fun watching them have a short temper, be aggressive, or become increasing critical of themselves and others. In these moments, it is difficult to know how to respond.
When our children show the best of us to the world, it can sure fill us with pride and we are quick to comment, “She got that from me.” However, when the world sees a glimpse of the worst of us through our children’s behaviors, it normally fills us with a sense of shame and embarrassment.
It inspires in us a response such as, “You get that from your mother/father.” Most parents feel pretty upset when they encounter moments like these because it is difficult to come face to face with our own failings, hurts, or inadequacies. Many times we just want our children to STOP IT so then we can find some relief from our own negative self-talk.
There is a different perspective we can pursue in these situations, and it is at the core of all relationships that touch us deeply. One of my favorite authors, a Catholic monk named Thomas Merton, once said, “We can only come to know who we are in the context of others.”
What we can take from this is that when we engage with people, especially our children, spouses, and friends, we get an opportunity to see both the best and the worst reflected back to us. We finally get to see that we have been walking around all day with lettuce in our teeth and we can do something about it.
I always felt a little embarrassed but also thankful when a kid would say to me, “Mr. Wester you breathe really stinks.” I then thought of all the other poor kids that had been subjected to my coffee breathe but never said a word.
When we see the worst in ourselves coming out in our children’s behavior, we can see it as an opportunity when we, along with our child, can choose to behave and think differently. They can help us grow into a person we never would’ve been without their influence.
As parents, we must be open to the teaching power our children possess in our lives; otherwise, we miss this beautiful opportunity to learn, grow, and change hand in hand with them.