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Lessons From My Mother
My Mom just celebrated her birthday, and for this weekıs column, I thought
Iıd focus on her, and what I learned from her. Specifically, there are two
stories Iıd like to tell - They both involve important life lessons that I
learned directly from her, and both involved me hearing just her end of two
separate phone conversations. Odd way to learn how to be a parent, but you
canıt plan these thing:
1. Itıs the mid-70s. My sister is newly engaged. Iım in Mom and Dadıs
room, waiting to talk to Mom about something long since forgotten, but at
the time, very important. But Mom was on the phone, so I hung on her every
word, waiting for the magic words signifying the end of her conversation.
However, what I overheard was: ³I donıt care that heıs Jewish. I care that
he doesnıt beat her. I care that heıs sweet with her. I care that heıs a
nice guy. And I care that she loves him. But I donıt care if heıs Jewish.²
Ever since then, I have had a very clear feeling that all humans are equal,
period. It doesnıt matter what religion or race or ethnicity or planet they
are from, it matters whether they are nice.
2. Itıs 1984/5. Senior year of high school. After being out past
dinner-time with my best friend Mike, where we walked through miles of slush
to get home from the mall, Mikeıs mom had started to worry. Remember, this
is before the days of cell phones being everywhere. Well, we managed to drag
our butts home, he to his house, me to mine. Just as I walked into the
house, I heard my Mom on the phone, talking to Mikeıs mother - ³You have
nothing to worry about theyıre grown boys, theyıre smart, they know how to
take care of themselves² That really struck a chord with me. My Mom
respected me in a way I hadnıt noticed before. She had confidence in me.
Both of these became major threads in my own parenting -
One, I benefit greatly from giving my kids as much trust and respect
as possible, even if it means I get bit in the butt over it occasionally.
Better to believe in your kid and have him fail than to lack faith and have
the success be empty.
Two, all people are, in the end, just like you. They want to feel
safe, they like to laugh, they like good food, they enjoy the sun on their
face, they like a nice blanket and comfortable shoes. Your kids are the same
way, so treat them that way, as little adults, not crippled versions of who
you want them to be. Kids are the same as you, save two things - Theyıre
shorter than you, and they have less experience.
Thatıs it, the rest of their stuff is random stuff that looks very similar
to yours. The sooner you treat them as equals, who just need a little care,
the sooner theyıll grow into the best possible versions of themselves.
By Stu Mark
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