“That which we are, we shall teach, not voluntarily, but involuntarily. Thoughts come into our minds by avenues which we never left open, and thoughts go out of our minds through avenues which we never voluntarily opened. Character teaches over our head.”
When it comes to parenting skills I can think of no other rule to guide us, then to understand our actions will always speak louder than words.
Yesterday I reviewed Greitens’ book, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life. Today I want to share 5 things from the book that applies to me as a parent.
1. Life is messy.
Your kids break out a box of crayons and colors all over the walls. You can yell or tell them what they did wrong. You can make them feel bad about what they did. Whatever you decide we know one thing is true. We can never undo the act of the mess in the first place.
As parents what we decide to do moving forward from the mess is more important than how or why the mess occurred in the first place. The best way to love them despite their mistakes is to show them what they can do next. What do we do? We help them figure out the best way to clean up the mess.
2. Life is about struggles
Life is overwhelming. Parenting is about preparing them to handle life’s never-ending struggles. Kids need a safe place to try new things. A place where they can test themselves. A place they can fail and recover from.
Sometimes they need help finding the best perspective for the situation at hand. Parenting is about helping your kid understand that things are not always as bad as they seem. It’s important for them to know that sometimes things fall apart to make way for better things.
3. Life is about your resources
Greitens expounds a bit on serving others as a key factor to being mentally strong. Helping your child to learn about the different organizations in your community is equally important. By teaching them how to tap into your local resources and learning how to use them effectively they will find out what is available to them if they ever fall on hard times.
The point he was trying to make was to help your kids see they have something to offer. That because of them “…they can shape the world around them for the better.”
4. Life is about people who show up
Kids need examples of good leadership. The first leader they see is the adult they grew up with. If you fail to show up, you give them permission to give up on life. If you are quick to blame others, they notice and make that a part of their identity too. If you take over their responsibilities and failures, they learn that someone else will always be there to clean up their mess.
As adults we should lead from the front. Effective leaders learn and grow. That means we should acknowledge our own mistakes and give our kids permission to acknowledge theirs.
When we help our kids realize making mistakes is a part of our human nature, we remind them to not be cynical of the mistakes made by others. We remind them that getting up and having the courage to make mistakes is proof that we are showing up.
5. Life is about the quality of your values
In Greitens’ book he shares the values that have helped him move forward with purpose. For the most part I like the ones he shared. He inspires me to sum up several of these chapters by saying this: Figure out your values.
As a parent we tend to tell our kids which values they should prioritize. Most of life’s dissatisfaction comes from not fully understanding where we stand… and how it relates to others in a big picture. If we haven’t taken the time to fully understand our own personal philosophy, how can we guide our children to live by their values?
Basically, Greitens wants us to realize that resiliency is about having good values to act upon. Which is why I believe consistently doing the “little” things really will matter in the end.
Now. I realize that not every child or adult has had the benefit of relying on the love and care of others. Most of the advice shared in this post are given on the premise that the child and the adult are in a loving environment. It does not address how to manage yourself during a personal crisis or how to begin the process of recovery. Which is why in my next post I will share some my favorite ways to deal with my own struggles.