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November, 2011:

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

On children:

Raising children is no doubt, no question, no contest the hardest undertaking ever.

A job, you can quit, a friend, you can disassociate from, a spouse, you can leave, but for a child, you are required to be ever present. Even in your absence, you are present.

Even if you are physically separated from them by distance, or emotional division, you are ever present. You define them. You defined their existence in your DNA, you define their existence by your provision. You define their existence by your guidance,
by your words, by your actions, by your belief systems, your world views and
how you respond to the life you have been given. Every day.

We are defined by so many things, but largely by our genetic history, our place in history, and the significant people in our lives – primarily “mother and father”.

An often quoted phrase “the graveyards are filled with indispensable people” might be true in every other arena, except as a parent. As a parent, no one can replace your
position, your unique history in that child’s life, your presence, your be-ing

There is no right, and there is no wrong way to parent. (baring of course physical, sexual and other forms of abuse, which clearly are completely untenable on any level)
But to parent with certainty is to me, rather an arrogant stance, it’s no doubt
a good place to be, in that you have a system that works for your particular
family, you are convinced of your position and that your children are
benefiting from this form of structure,  but to not question yourself, to not examine your approach, your motives, the predicted results you are hoping for, is like living an unexamined life. Hollow, meaningless, servile to the greater good of society.

To parent with the assumption that we know what defines good parenting, is to assume that we have a bird’s eye view on the great tapestry that is being woven by 7 billion people on a daily basis.

What makes parenting so hard, is not only the consistency of the undertaking, that there is no down time, no off switch, no vacation, no time out, no escape, no
respite. That in itself is daunting. But what makes it even harder, is that
while this is all going on, you have your life and your path to forge. You
have so much of yourself to define, so much of yourself to explore, to
celebrate, to live, to learn. You have your private, individual triumphs and
failures to experience. And for better or worse, you have passengers on that
ride, who until a given age, have no other option but to ride along side you as
you swerve the curve balls, as you misjudge and make hard contact with life, as
you succeed, as you negotiate.

That’s what’s hard!

To constantly feed, watch out for, advise, discipline, interact with, love, sympathize with, play with, study with, clean up with, listen to, and be present with that
little soul is indeed hard. But it’s measurable, in terms of your performance.
I fed them a nutritious meal or we went with junk food tonight, I could do
better. I helped explore a solution to help them negotiate through the quagmire
of social interactions today. I saw them apply a value or moral I taught them
with positive results. I took them to get good medical care, and the wound will
heal with the right antibiotics. These are hard to keep doing, but measurable
in terms of the impact this has on their wellbeing.

Then there’s the immeasurable, yet the most significantly impacting  – Oh, I’m having a life too in amongst all this – and what do my choices, decisions and actions for my OWN life, for my happiness, my wellbeing, my joys, my goals, aims, dreams – how do they define, positively or negatively, this journey that these passengers are on?

What if I want to accept a lower paying job for my own fulfillment, happiness, sense of contribution, sense of achievement. If accepting this job means having to
relocate, or having to move your children to a new and more affordable school.
Do you stay on in your job, with its higher wage, and bring home your
discontent, your bitterness, your resentments, your anger, your defeat, your
frustrations, all under the banner of sacrifice for your children’s education
and social standing in a given community? Or do you take the job with less pay,
but celebrate your spirit, your calling, and bring with it, your passion, your
lust for life, your own fire? Do you bring that into your life space, your home
and thereby give your children so much more than any physical institution or
brick and mortar home can bring. Teach them to follow their hearts, honor their
calling, live their purpose? Although it has it’s cost?

I have never believed that smooth sailing creates the best people. Character is formed only through adversity.

That is a fact!

Historical circumstances bring adversity, and under those conditions you, as a parent may need to chose to stabilize and normalize home as much as possible. Children who lost parents to 9/11. Children who grow up in war torn countries, children who grew
up in the townships under Africa’s Apartheid regime. This is your child’s place
in history that you have little or no control over. This is the time epoch into
which your child was born.

But in times when, as an adult you have the peace and security to pursue your goals and life’s desires, what questions do you need to be asking yourself and what justifications are answers are you coming up with for your life choices? Do you make choices based on a perception of their wellbeing above all else? And I deliberately use
the term perception, because often times, what society thinks is the correct
way to raise a child is not necessarily so.

Great men have been born from dire poverty. Great artists, powerful leaders, multimillionaires, healers, are born from pain. They are born from circumstances in which there were challenges – for them – as the passenger to their parents who were steering their own life vehicles recklessly.

We have no idea who we are raising, or what our choices, or lack of courage to take action will have on these passengers. That’s what I believe. We do the best we can, with what we have, and that is the key. To balance what is good and right and
rewarding and fulfilling for yourself with the safety of your passengers –
their physical, cognitive and emotional safety. But trying to work out if
emotional safety is best served for them in traditional, stable structures, or in
reflecting to them the possibilities life can offer, if you are bold enough to
explore… that is the challenge. Bearing in mind, that if the driver of the
vehicle falls asleep at the wheel, for sheer neglect of his/her own stimulating
scenery on the drive of life, that does the passengers no favours either!

The Gaither’s sang a song called “Mary, did you know?” the lyrics include the haunting question: “Mary did you know that your baby boy would come to save the world?
Mary did you know that when you kissed the little baby, you kissed the face of
God?   Mary did you know that the child you delivered will soon deliver you?”

Imagine if we knew who we were raising? I think we purposefully can not know, because we would be so overwhelmed, we would make a whole bunch of different parenting decisions, which would ultimately alter who that child would become. (triggers me to write a blog on time travel – but lets leave that for another ‘time’)

Did the mother of Mandela have any inclination that she was raising our legend? Did the mother of Obama ever conceive he could be the president of the United States of
America? Did the mother of the drug addict realize that this is the road her child could take? Did the mother of the gangster feel disempowered for so long, with such intensity, that she foresaw the inevitable? Did the mother of Kate Middleton know she was grooming the future Queen of England?

Someone once asked (forgive the anonymity of the reference, but I only recall the quote and not the author) “Do you know who is in your house? Do you know whom you are raising? And will that child that you have delivered have to deliver others? Do
you know, when you kiss that innocent face of your child, that you are kissing
the face of God?’

I, for one, am acutely aware of it!