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On Parenting, Loving, and Teaching

Sometimes at night when I cuddle my children, I think about how very precious they are to me. I whisper to them how wonderful it is that they exist. How delighted I am in them. And I know these matters. I know it is deeply important for them to know that they are important to me. That I value them, that I delight in them, that I want them to succeed.

And then I worry what will happen when I am no longer around for them. What will happen when their parents, who have celebrated them from the second they were born, are no longer around to treasure them just for existing.

Of course, this is something that happens to all of us. Who do we turn to, when that first love is gone? How do I prepare them for that?

I think at all ages we still need to feel loved. We need to feel treasured. We need to feel that someone sees what we do and likes it, loves it, enjoys it. But I cannot grant my children someone to love them in the future, I realise. And this is why, it is ever more important that I help them develop their own appreciation for themselves. To grow up feeling proud of who they are. Appreciating what they do. Taking joy in their actions. Giving themselves the love and kindness, and grace, that I would love to give them if I could always be there.

How can I give them this self-love? I think there are two aspects to it. One speaking the love I feel for them into their lives. Telling them, showing them, how loved they are. Because I know my words will affect their inner narrative. I will be loving, and honest, and kind. It is not about building false, inflated-egos, or telling them they are better than others. It is about telling them that they are uniquely them, with strengths and weaknesses, that make them beautifully human, beautifully able to love, and grow in wisdom and generosity for themselves and others.

I also think treating myself kindly is important. Because we need to model to our children how to love themselves. How can they believe us that they deserve love if they see us hating ourselves, when a part of us is part of them? So, I tell them what I find funny about me. And that I am funny  I tell them I matter; I tell them I am a wonderful human being too.

And, of course this ties in to teaching. When we learn we are in a vulnerable position. Others are seeing what we can/cannot do… and it is key that in these moments of vulnerability our gains and attempts are celebrated, our weaknesses are gently supported, our failings gracefully helped. A kind word from a teacher we trust, whom we look up to, can have such a powerful effect to how we see ourselves. An unking word, a dismissive gesture, can be so deeply cutting.

So, to my wonderful children, who currently sleep next to me in this sleepless, and to my gentle Thinkers (students) who share with me your ideas, your jokes, your thoughts dreams and doubts, I promise to be thoughtful in my words and actions, to try to build you up to see the wonderful person you are, the amazing potential you have, to help you love yourself, so that love might accompany you in those valleys of life, when those who love you are not near.


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