The Opportunity of Parenthood
Photo credit by Jon Kneller; creative commons license
It’s said that, if you have children, you get to see the world through their eyes. But it’s not so much a different perspective as a huge opportunity to rewrite your own childhood. Most people I know had terrible childhoods. It’s rare to find someone who had two loving parents–whether married or not–and made it through childhood and adolescence unscathed by molesting uncles, parental negligence, or a whole variety of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The last woman I know to confess that she had a great childhood told me that she had problems finding the right relationship because no matter how good things were with a new guy, it just never measured up to what her parents had together.
While it’s not a fresh set of eyes through which to see the world, it’s definitely a fresh reminder of the world during that phase of our lives. We remember things long forgotten and old wounds are re-opened. In every case, it’s an opportunity.
Do we react by perpetuating the ills of our own childhood? Or do we find a way to undo those ills by doing the opposite with our children?
I still remember raising a hand for the first time to my 15-month-old, for something very minor, and stopping my hand in mid-air. I turned it into a fist instead, and I swore I would never beat my children then and there and that I would change that legacy. It wasn’t necessary to keep my girls in line through childhood or their teen years.
I’ve tried to make sure my kids always knew that they were special, worthwhile, wonderful, both in word in action. It’s a self-correcting course, a way to reclaim some of what we parents lost as children. It’s our own best medicine for old wounds that have never healed.