I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.
You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.
Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).
This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.
Of course preparing myself to have a baby boy has me thinking of a lot of different ideas. I always thought it would be easier to raise a girl than a boy — for the simple fact that I am a girl and it felt more relevant to me. Having said that I have never really been a girly girl (nevermind the few years growing up that I was adamant that my sister play Barbies with me). Then I had to grow up fast and, well, my most girly girl self was replaced with real live survival.
Of course I enjoy a bit of dressing up — you know once every year, where I bring out those uncomfortable high heels, and Chris oohs and aahs, and then those shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. I am and always will be most comfortable with myself when I am comfortable. Flip-flops, comfy outfits, and hopefully all that just falls in the background so that others see just me. Not what I am wearing or how it fits. As none of that really matters. I digress — this blog post’s intent is nothing about that at all.
Over the weekend, I came across this article “Why Boys Need To Play With Girl Toys Too” and I thought I wonder what Chris thinks of that? No matter at the moment, because whether he is okay with it or not, the message that I left with that I want to bring in to our parenting (we’ll talk Chris) is that I want to teach my son to care. For some that may mean a boy playing with a doll, or maybe it is about nurturing an animal or pet, whatever the vehicle I want to make sure to show my son how to care. That in my mind starts with Chris and me. For a long time he will watch us, emulate us, and learn the way of the world from our example. If he wants to play with dolls and we do not let him, that sends him a message. You get the point.
And in the end, while I have not really even started this raise-a-child thing, I can tell you I was one (with not the best childhood), and I spent from the age of 9 – 23 babysitting, working in day cares, and nannying — what matters most is that you show them you care. You do this by being present, listening, and appreciating what they have to say. By showing you care, they respond and show that to others. To me that is what matters most.
I remember back in the days of cassette tapes, my mom would often play stories of healing for us. Sometimes she played them when we were sick, and other times when we could not fall asleep at night. I cannot remember 95% of the stories, but I do know that after you listened to them over and over again, you almost had them memorized. One of the ones that continues to come to me to this day was the quote: “Go to give a good time, not get a good time.”
I was reminded of this quote last night while spending a little time catching up on Facebook, where I saw this quote posted on Marianne Williamson’s timeline:
Where ego asks “What am I not getting?” in a relationship, Spirit asks “What am I not giving?”
It made me think about how often we get upset, angry, frustrated when we do not get what we want, or things do not turn out as we expected. At times in my life when I have been more aware and taken the focus off myself and really focused on “giving” to the situation, I have found I am calmer, cooler, and more collected. Sometimes though, life throws us curveballs and we are not prepared for how fast they come at us. We may feel injustice that someone is not treating us right, or we feel left out and not included in a project, whatever the reason deep down the feeling that irks us is that we do not feel loved.
I can remember many times where I have gotten upset with Chris and as we discussed it later, the reason I might have reacted was because the situation (example: he did not follow through with something) makes me feel unheard. When I don’t feel heard, I don’t feel loved. At the end of it all, the matter up for discussion is mostly irrelevant. What matters most is how we feel. We act out, react, and get angry because we want to or even need to feel loved.
So my question is: why is it so hard for us to say to another – I need more love today – can you give that to me?