Today I have woken up full of strength and wonderment. The sun is shining, I have health, i have family and I feel truly lucky. This is not necessarily a place I have always been at, but its fantastic to recognise our progress. This morning i have been researching for an online course I have put together to help other Mums becoming their best self this year and I have been pondering what I would like my children to learn from me, what I would like to teach them about the world.
I thought I would share with you my thoughts:
1: I want my children to learn empathy. They are too young to fully grasp this concept yet, but are learning all the time. I want them to know that their perspective of the world is not someone else’s, not even each others. I want them to learn that you never truly know what another persons experience is, but based on what they tell you, clues they give away and thinking about how you may feel in that situation, will give you some understanding and you must always be ready to be wrong. Our view is that, ours. Its not fact, its one sided and its our opinion, how we process the world. Its very important to understand that we are different and to have love for others, even those that annoy us, or we struggle to understand.
2: I want them to learn to say sorry when they are wrong and explain their reasons for the apology. I don’t want them to say sorry all the time though. We have a terrible habit in the UK of apologising for ourselves and I think girls are much more inclined to do this. Its a horrible quality “sorry, can I sit there?” “Sorry I always say stupid things” “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry” When it becomes the start of a sentence it loses its power to correct and makes you look weak.
Make a statement, its OK. It is however very important to admit when you messed up and correct that mistake, especially if you have hurt or effected someone else with your actions. Not generic sorry’s though, I mean ” Im sorry for saying…” “I see how my actions affected you and that was wrong” The ability to show that kind of strength of character is brilliant, not being able to admit you might be human and your actions could have impacted another, is a dreadfully weak attribute and not one I want my girls to have.
3: I want them to learn to stand up for themselves. I guess this is one we would all want, no one wants their children to get pushed around, but what does this look like?
First of all, I’m not a pushover, but it’s something I learnt and was undoubtably taught by lifes lessons. I certainly don’t mean an aggressive ‘no one messes with me’ kind of way, I mean knowing who you are and what you deserve, standing your ground when its needed.
When I was at school I often found myself in violent or confrontational situations. I was on television, I stood out and unfortuantley there are always those that have resentment for that. I remember having numerous conversations with my Dad who asked me what I would do in the next sitation. My Dad is no pushover, he grew up in a particularly rough area of Newcastle, with a tough working class Dad and was even given 50p when he had a fight!! However my dad has learnt the art of talking his way out of a situation, ‘the gift of the gab’ and this has equally always held me in good stead. If you learn to think quickly and use your words to difuse a situation, whilst also letting someone know you won’t be pushed around, you win.
Posture and confidence will mean you rarely have anyone try, as they assume you will be able to handle yourself. I don’t just mean in a volatile sitation though, I mean at work, in business, with their peers, with authority figures.
You cannot go through life being told what to do and I am teaching my children this already (although this means I have to deal with so many questions it’s untrue and strong willed little monkeys!)
4: They must learn that life isn’t fair.
What a negative lesson ay? As children it’s a magical time when life is full of wonder and you feel safe (or at least it really should be), as you get older it can be a real shock to the system to discover that people don’t like you, there is favouritism, aggression, sadness, death, illness and sometimes theres blame, sometimes its just bad luck.
In order for them to be protected from life, they must learn that life is hard, but its how you react to it that counts. If you are taught early that life isnt always fair, when it isnt, you will be able to adapt accordingly.
My girls aren’t yet aware that their Dad has grade 4 brain cancer, because we lead a wonderfully happy life and my husband is doing amazing, but thats unfairness they didnt ask for. So I will teach them that we look for the best bits in the world and we swerve around the shit. I have talked to my oldest daughter already about people not all liking her, or me for that matter and she came home this week saying ” Mum, do you want the good news or the bad news?” I said “the bad news and then you can cheers me up with the good”, she said ” The bad news is that a few people were mean to me today at school, the good news is, I just ignored them and got on with playing. Thats their problem” I think that sums it up. Learn that a lot of the time when life throws you something tricky, it has nothing to do with you.
5: Being different is great. Weird is wonderful. I doubt very much this will have to be taught, but will be watched. Neither me, nor my husband have ever been standard or followed the normal path. We have ‘anything but ordinary’ painted across our wall and live our life in our own way. When you’re younger you desperately want to fit in, but the best things happen when you don’t. I want them to express themselves, be colourful and try new things. Perfection is completely unobtainable, we are all a mixed up bag of flaws, trying to get through life, why not do its with a bit of artistic flair and singing to your own tune?
I know there are so many lessons I want them to learn, but here are a few that sprung to mind today. I just want them to feel free to be their authentic self and recognise that other people have a right to be theirs too. That they should stick up for people, have opinions, not follow everyone else, be counted when they need to be, have principles and be kind people.
They are already on that path and I’m proud overtime my daughter brings me a toy to give to charity, says how grateful she is for her home, her bed, her food, and that she knows others don’t have as much and we should give back. Walking through town seeing her grab her little purse, get out her money and to give to homeless people is magic.
Children are little sponges, it’s our job as parents to show them the right way.