The future will be determined by our children. So parenting effectively is a top priority. How can we ensure that we’re doing a good job? By being good to ourselves, by enjoying life, and by being positive, adventurous people.
If we’re juggling jobs and life, and we’re coming home stressed out, better to go do something relaxing and get rid of the stress first, because our children don’t need to see us worried, irritated or fearful.
We’re not supposed to be slaves to our kids. It’s an out-dated model. We need and deserve a playtime every day, to maintain a healthy attitude. And if we’re out there, enjoying a job, a hobby, sports, friends, and we’re coming home feeling fulfilled and excited about life, and encouraging excitement in our kids, then we’ve given them something valuable.
THEY NEED OUR EXAMPLE
We’re ushering our children into a world where it seems reasonable to feel fearful about the future. Kindness, dignity and integrity have diminished; violence, poverty and disease are everywhere; the environment is endangered. And it’s easy to believe that, “It’s bad and getting worse.”
Children who live with adults who focus primarily on the negativity and see the world as a frightening place may end up seeing it the same way, viewing the world through a lens that says, “I’m frightened, because it’s terrible out there.” Kids with that perspective begin life at a disadvantage.
Fortunately, children have an inner strength that can help them overcome a daily negative perspective and experience. They’re so naturally forgiving and resilient that they tend to make it, and even thrive, no matter what. It’s as if some guardian elementwells up from inside and saves them from our worst mistakes. And kids who grow up believing that life is supportive by nature, and that it has their back, fare better.
It’s our job as parents to feel all right about life, even when it’s messy. But it’s not necessarily a skill or tendency we’re born with. It’s a moment-to-moment decision – to be a positive example.
When kids grow in the presence of adults who are not afraid and who are finding the world to be an interesting and abundant place, they have a head start on a fulfilling life.
THEY NEED ONE WONDERFUL ROLE MODEL
If they live with just one person who is happy, they can handle one who is not. When they have one parent who’s experiencing life as good and another who is overwhelmed by the challenges, they can handle the comparison, and they can choose the model they want. And they’re wise enough to say, “That’s the way I want to be.”
Even if our marriage isn’t working well, we can be an effective, positive influence on our kids. Our partners may not be happy, in which case they may be bitter and accusing. We can join them in that place, giving back hurt for hurt, anger for anger. Or we can stand outside of it.
Trying to makeover our partners won’t work. We can’t pressure them to come where we are. We’ll need to accept whatever experience they’re having, without wallowing in it with them.
We can’t give our joy to our partners, but we may be able to help them find an alternative healthier way of living, by living it ourselves.
And our children will still see at least one person who is consistently joyous. One person who demonstrates that life is not scary or threatening, regardless of current events, money in the bank, promotions at work, peace with other family members, or a good sex life.
The list of reasons to not be happy is endless. And the decision to not go there is life-changing.
Even if our children are grown, we can set an example of someone who’s finding joy in life and maintaining a chosen attitude – and identifying the cause as internal.
A healthy, happy lifestyle is infectious. And when we walk around feeling delighted with life, it just naturally goes better for us.
WHEN FEELINGS AND EXPERIENCES SNOWBALL
Once when Ron and I were visiting Mallorca, we were riding a bus into the capital city of Palma de Mallorca when a screw fell out of my sunglasses. It would’ve been easy to feel bummed, but we went the other way.
We began to actually look for this tiniest of screws on the dirty floor of this crowded, fast-moving bus. And Ron actually found the thing! We were so excited. Just then, we arrived at our bus stop, and as we got off, there in front of us was an eyeglass store! So we went inside. Were they willing to help us? Of course, they were! A friendly salesperson fixed my glasses. No charge!
Out of the store we went, feeling happy and grateful. And to top it all off, Ron grabbed my arm and said, “Listen!” A band in the park across the street was playing Van Morrison’s “Bright Side of the Road!”
It really works to just not let anything or anyone talk us out of feeling good. When we choose to enjoy each moment, simply because it feels better to live life that way, it feels as if we’re in the right place, at the right time, on the right trajectory toward the future. Innovative ideas occur to us, people show up with whatever we need, doors fly open, opportunities abound, and we thrive! And our kids get to see us doing it.
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