Wednesday, 15 September 2010

What is a Good Parent?

Shalom:
So what is a good parent?
Ah Laini...you don't ask easy questions, do you?

No, I don't. Iike to make people think.
And that oftens gets me into trouble.
When I think of a good parnet, I think of (of course) my own mother.
True, she made her mistakes and wasn't perfect, but there was a truth she modeled for me that lasts until this day.
I remember my grandmother, Grondmother Calli, a gaint of a woman. Again not perfect, but g-dly and precious to me.
 I also had a wonderful mentor, and for the life of me and to my shame, I do not remember her name. But she would be the first to say: "remembering my name isn't as important as remembering the lesson."
From each of these women I learned many times, but the one thing they all said and well as modeled:
"A good parent doesn't damand respect; they earn it."
So what does that mean?
I remember growing up, hearing over and over again, "Honour Thy Mother and Thy Father."
And what does that mean? At the time, it meant I did whatever I was told, didn't sass back, obeyed their rules.
True.
As a baby, I needed those barriers that kept me safe. The crib, playpen, safely gate and fence. The lock doors and the Pram.
When I got older the crib gave way to a big girl bed, a bed I had to learn how to make up in the morning. Once mummie taught me to brush my teeth, I had to brush them on my own. For a while I had to be reminded to brush my teeth, make my bed, take a bath, put on clean clothes, until I started doing it because I like the way a clean mouth and body felt. I had to be taught and told how to clean my room until I started doing it on my own.
Funny thing, when I became a teenager, mummie allowed me to decorate my bedroom the way I wished. No rules. Why? Because I already knew what my mother would and would not permit in her house. And knowing the rules, I was free to decorate however I wished. She trusted me.
Then, mummie started knocking on my bedroom door. Yes, the room was in her house, but my bedroom was MY SPACE and she honoured it.
When grandmother made my lunch for me, she gave me a choice between peanutter and jelly or just jelly. Knowing I hated peanut and jelly, I would always pick jelly. But I got to chose.
When I became a woman and was on my own, mother told me: "You are now a woman and I trust all that I put into you. Remember, if you wish me to treat you like an adult, act like one."
I never forgot those words.
Later, when I became a mummie, I often quoted "honour thy mother and father," until a pastor's wife pulled me aside.
She said we as parnets cannot demand obediance or respect. Yes, our children are to obey us. But we should treat our children with respect also. We must live in such a way that makes our children want to obey us. Praise them for jobs well done, respect their space, respect them. She said, never use the Scriptures as a club (the bible says you have to honour me!!!!) You want your son to honour you; honour him."
It has been 32 years since I heard those words. And they still ring true.
Not always easy, but in the end, worth.
Aries, if you are reading this, I love you.
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