All Grown Up

What can you say about a child who drove you crazy for all too many years with total underachievement and who then one day said to himself, “Gosh, I’m almost 30 and I haven’t done a thing with my life” and proceeds to turn his entire life around.  He’s now 32 and, in those few years, he has married a fine young woman, completed his bachelor’s degree, and landed a really good job with much promise.

When I think of the time and money spent on him in his youth, I know now that it was worth every penny and moment to see him so self-assured and capable.  It could have gone either way in that he could have ended up in prison or been a huge success.  I could only hope that it was the latter and watch him make all his mistakes wasting his and other’s time.   Being a work in progress, he still has concepts to learn, but the truth is he is doing great. 

I saw that he had tremendous abilities at a very young age knowing when he was a teenager and then in his early twenties that all that talent was latent even ignored by him.  I grieved the waste of such possibility, but stood in my faith that it would turn out all right.  Sometimes, you just have to work very hard and have faith in the fairy tale.  Faith is defined as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

Faith has always been a major part of my life.  It has never been so tested as it was with this son.  Yet, now, I can look back and say I always believed.  Through all those tough times, my faith in him never wavered.  I wonder if he felt that strong belief, if it bouyed him when he needed it, if it was a rock on which he could build.  We’ll never know since we can’t compare his situation to any other.  But, then, I don’t need proof.  It’s all there for me to see in this happy, mature man who cherishes his wife and works way too hard.

Growing up is such a hard thing to do.  There are tons of books giving all types of advice on the proper way to rear a child some with good advice while others give baffling advice that makes no sense.  But, in truth, the child teaches us how to deal with him or her.  I used to believe, as I had been taught, that a child comes into this world as a blank slate.  Now, I know that a baby comes to us fully equipped with its own personality, abilities, weaknesses, and potential.  They are ours to teach the methods needed for getting along in this world and there is little time to instill the morals and ethics of our beliefs. 

When they are very young, they spend time primarily with the parents and those are the easy times.  As they age, their perimeters expand to include other children either from family, neighbors, or school.  Those children bring new ideas and other values that may or may not be the imprint that you want for your child.  That is a continuing pattern throughout their life. 

We, as parents, must have enough influence on our child to steer them back to what is more correct for them.  As they grow, other influences are myriad  from television, movies, and teachers to those they choose as friends.  Parents have limits as to what we can do to ensure that they live up to their potential.  Our influence wanes as they move into their teens and diminishes more when they leave home to attend college or go their own way. 

If we are steadfast in living what we believe and setting the example, then, the child has a standard to guide them.  And that is the hard part.   Consistency in our life ensuring that our morals and ethics are reflected in our every day living is the hard part of parenting.  We must look ourselves in the mirror closely in order to be what the child needs.  Winning and losing is a concept that is real for life, but one must never lose when it comes to our children.

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