I sent my children an email last week expressing my sorrow related to the Paris terrorist attacks. AS a parent I felt a need to reach out to them -even though they are grown, married with children of their own – Once a mother always a mother.
I reminded them to take time to process, grieve, bow their head and pray if that brings them peace. I asked them to keep their eyes and hearts open for all the beauty that still exists in the world – to watch for all the love that is present – for that is what will beat terror. Love. Bonding. Caring for one another.
As parents of young children, I asked them to shield their little ones from the news of terror. They are only 4 and 2 years old. They live carefree lives full of love and and the innocence that childhood should be- protected by those who love them. No child should be subjected to the terror we have witnessed lately – and for those who have no choice – I pray they are surrounded by adults who will help them process their emotions.
Older children who are exposed via TV and Internet need an adult to reassure them and help them process the events. Follow the child’s lead in how much they wish to discuss and answer honestly. It’s best that they get the information from a parent or valued caregiver as opposed to another child. Be there for them but don’t be surprised if they don’t want to have a sit down discussion. Many children express their needs best in the context of everyday activities – in small subtle ways. Be on the lookout and take time needed.
This is a reminder to take time to share all the beauty and love in the world and to teach children resilience. Teach them to empower themselves with acts of kindness. Teach them how they can make a positive influence in the world each and every day in a million little ways. Children are resilient. Be there to help them learn just how resilient they are, and in that process, we may learn something about ourselves.
My Mother was a teacher and an inspiring mentor to me as I followed in her footsteps. She taught me many valuable lessons which I still use. She passed recently after struggling for years with Alzheimer’s, and I miss all of her – healthy Mom and Alzheimer Mom. No matter what was going on in her life, I learned as I watched her navigate life.
I find myself thinking about what it must have been like for her with 14 Grandchildren. I have four now. Three girls and the eldest is a boy. They are delightful and I could sit and watch them play for hours. I love their childhood innocence and delight in the world. I NEVER though I would be an intrusive bossy Grandparent – yet at times I have found myself just that. AND then I have to sit back and realize that parenting styles are unique – children are unique – and the interactions we have as humans are complicated and layered. I am a product of the billions of interaction with all others with my parental interactions being the most impactful. AS I age, I understand more and more how much we are all a product of our upbringing and in some ways I feel like I have never grown up. I still look for the soft look that only a parent can give – that place of unconditional love that only a parent can understand and impart.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is the importance of being there. Being present. It’s not so much about what I do when I am with my Grandchildren – although we like to have fun baking, singing, dancing, and going places – but it’s about the quality of the interaction each time I am with them. I have a chance to impart something magical and loving each time we gather together. What a gift that is. As a parent it can be difficult to understand the magnitude of your influence upon your children – yet there it is – inherent in your connection and never gone – I still feel that strong influence of my Mother -now in my new role as a Grandmother. I know that my Mother will be with me until the day I die.
I believe that Parenting done well is the most difficult job on Earth. But the good news is as long as you and your child are alive, each day is a new day to try and get it right. And once you are dead, your child will carry you with them, so be in it well and be in it for the long haul. Because like it or not….it’s forever.