In the 10 years now that I have been a parent, I can honestly say that my children have taught me just as much (if not more) as I have taught them. Children have an innocent unfiltered way of looking at the world that can offer worn out parents a new perspective on life. The problem is that most of the time we are so caught up in our world, that we don’t take the time to observe and learn from those around us – specifically children. Of all the lessons I have learned from my children, I consider these five lessons to be the most critical in my own personal growth and development.
1) Patience – As they say, patience is a virtue. I say patience is a lesson best taught by a child! It is in a child’s nature to test their boundaries. As a parent, your patience will be tested in ways you never thought possible. Your patience will be called upon at 2am when your colicky newborn is screaming or when your two year old decides to demonstrate his willfulness during your grocery shopping trip. It is important to understand that children push their limits (and yours) as part of their learning process. With that understanding – and the help of a few relaxation techniques – it will be easier to remain calm when your little one isn’t.
2) Forgiveness – Forgiveness can be a powerful force in your life. Your capacity to forgive can mean the difference between a lifetime of happiness or stress and doubt. Making mistakes is an important part of growing and children will most likely make many of them throughout their childhood. Therefore the ability to forgive is one of those traits that some people don’t realize is difficult for them until they are parents. Learning to forgive both yourself and others of their mistakes is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety from your life. Considering that they seem to grow up before our eyes, children often remind us exactly how short life is. Learn to forgive quickly!
3) Unconditional Love – It is difficult to understand the love that a parent has for their child – and likewise a child for their parent – until of course you become a parent. Parenting require us to love another person more than we love ourselves. When you love someone unconditionally you learn to love them for who they are and place their needs above our own. This is something that parents do on a regular basis. How many times have you sacrificed something because your child needed new school clothes or you had to pay for braces? However unconditional love does have its rewards, like when you get that love back.
4) Responsibility – Nothing screams responsibility more than becoming a parent. Responsibilities may begin at a young age, such as working, paying bills, or cleaning your room/home but there is no responsibility like raising a child. When having to care for another person on a daily basis you quickly learn where your priorities are or at least where they should be. When you become a parent you are then responsible for providing a loving, stable home for your child. This will also be one of the first traits you teach your child as they mature. Many people feel that they “grow up” with their child and their sense of responsibility grows as they mature.
5) Power of Words – Our words have the power to inspire and lift up those around us. Don’t believe me? Attend a local church service. Most churchgoers leave the service feeling empowered and inspired due to the words that are spoken during the sermon. However they also have the power to hurt and damage sensitive hearts. Since becoming a mom I am increasingly aware of just how easily our words can affect those around us. In many ways children force us to think before we speak. While we are only human and we are all prone to saying things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment, my children have taught me to consider my words more carefully. It has also taught me to contemplate the way I speak to others as well. Since becoming a mom I believe I have become less judgmental and more positive and encouraging in my relationships with my children and others.
My children have taught me many lessons during my 10 year journey as a parent. My only hope is that I can guide them and teach them as well as they have taught me.