Too Late

26 Jun

In an article in the May issue of the Portland Monthly, Randy Leonard, long time city council member and well known local politician, makes the following statement:

“I’ve said many times that if I had to do it all over again, I would have waited until I was, like, 40 to start having kids. I felt like I was just more focused, patient, and present as I got older”.

 

Aged Perspective

This is a very common sentiment by many older parents, in particular by those beginning to experience their grandchildren. Being with their children’s kids at an older and wiser age provides a very different perspective in which to engage with them. This is also a bit sad. It is sad because many of these parents feel that they could have done a better job with their own children as they experience the direct contact with their grandkids.

 

Early Wisdom

Can this be avoided? Maybe. Mr Leonard believes older age reflects better attributes for raising kids. He mentions focus, patience, and presence. Yes, these may indeed develop more dominantly in our life as we age, but they are not necessarily reserved only for the older. Our kids are important enough that committing to and then strengthening these attributes can and should be done early.

Parent Modeling

But where is the manual? There are hundreds of parenting books out there. A number of them speak directly to this issue but finding them and actually reading them while young is rare. It’s a fact that most of us parents learn by modeling our parents. In some cases we may not have particularly liked how our parents managed this responsibility and may have rebelled aggressively against it, but it’s the only direct parenting model reference we have.

Prime Concern

Everybody understands and accepts that the demands of beginning working careers and developing blossoming opportunities can be staggering, leaving little time and energy for anything else. What do these young people think they are doing with their kids? Having kids is far different than having a pet. We don’t ‘train’ them and put them in kennels when we go off to work or travel.

Stepping Up

We have an absolute responsibility to take care of our children, which means we have to pay attention and spend the time on our children as a priority. Not only do we have we have to ‘stretch’ time and make significant compromises, we have to adopt some serious determination to do it well. It’s not our responsibility to have perfect children, it’s our responsibility to have a relationship with them. It’s on us to build that relationship, not them. Most of us will have to learn how to do it better than our parents by acquiring understanding when we begin having children.

30 years later isn’t much help.

I believe if we took the responsibility of parenting more seriously from the get go we would learn…we would grow as parents and in the end not wish “we could do it better”.

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