A Parent’s Duty

It is about this time of the year that parents, I am one, need some relief. Well, it does not happen. We have a duty, a  Parent’s Duty.

As a parent, I am commissioned with a duty, pass on the great characteristics that instill self-control and self-esteem, and delete the bad traits which destroy the same. A task I can confirm as easier said than done.

As a parent, just as in living my own life, I am subjected to emotions that can control and cause me to pass on that which I believe are good traits. However, such emotions sometimes fake me out, leading me to believe that I am passing on the good traits. But in reality, the negative characteristics are traveling in disguise.

It infuriates me to hear stories of teachers getting reprimanded by the parents of their students. Teachers from my generation came with a certain respect. If the teacher had to speak to me, that was it. “Don’t give the teacher an opportunity to speak to you again”, were the words of my mother. She meant business. There was no discussion beyond that, no matter how hard I tried to justify my side of the story.

Today, I see some parents falling into the trap of believing they are enhancing their child’s self-esteem by being the voice for their child’s cause against the teacher. But, I believe more harm than good is being done.

In my case, when my child’s principal came to me and said she had to speak to my son today, I sensed a certain concern from her. Her disquiet body language said it all. She was waiting for the “angelic” defense, the knee jerk response that puts the teacher on notice that the child is an angel, never stepping out of line. “So teacher, please change the way you speak to my child” can be the parental thought.

I hope I am not sounding righteous. I am merely attempting to share a real life experience. That said, my own child will offer that I am not always the best mailman at delivering a message. My goal, in this story, is to offer my experience as an example in garnering strength of mind, in focusing on our parental duty, and to become the example of responsibility; all actions that can lead to generating huge self-esteem and self-worth for our children.

My response to the principal was not what she had braced herself for. “Well”, I said. “If you had to speak with my child, then he probably deserved it.”  She was completely taken back, expecting the typical parental defense. I myself was surprised, and at the same time, disappointed in what I heard next. The principal opened up, sharing her explanation of how we are, in general, handcuffing our teachers, while at the same time, hurting the maturation and growth of our own children.

As parents, emotions can run high in protecting our children.  As a parent myself, I have learned that these emotions can trick me into believing that I am protecting my child from emotional pain. Instead, I could possibly be inhibiting his growth as a maturing competent being, capable of solving his own problems. Instead, I just need to be there. Let him walk through his own pain, and watch in amazement at his growth. A task much easier said than done. I know in my own humanness, I fail.  But, I want to believe I fail less with time.

I become anxious more than I would like, probably from my own internal foibles, my own desires to cure pain, but in doing so, I may snatch an opportunity for growth away from the painful, in this case, my very own child.

As I become more comfortable in my own pain, I must do the same for others, and allow the pain to nurture new vibrant growth. This action, I am coming to believe, requires strength of mind and great faith; and it is extremely hard to do. I fail more often than I would like.

But I prefer to view it as my try; my try to be that better example, the one who does not have the solution but instead, the one who possesses support and understanding. To do so, I must whole heartedly, in absolute awareness, continue to fight my desire to “fix it”. Even though a “fix” may be obvious to me, I must resist. If I truly believe “in pain we can find growth”, then I can only conclude that “pain” must be experienced to gain anything. In order to just be there for someone, to resist the urge to “fix it”, I need strength of mind. So I try.