Friday, November 25, 2005

Hey Pot, You're Paisley

As parents we strive to educate our children. Some of those skills we teach are academic; some are relationship based, while others are often life’s little lessons. In many cases those lessons are not taught, but picked up in our actions, our re-actions, our day-to-day living. In most cases we hope that our children are learning our better personality traits. If not we can always fall back on “Do as I say, not as I do” Which in my limited parenting experience is a piss-poor way of teaching.

But what happens when those learned lessons backfire. What happens when our children have learned from us, (in this case positive, affirmative lessons) and throw them back in our faces. Regardless of what we as parents want our children to do.

There is one argument that suggests that the children should still respect the wishes of the parent, and no matter what action the child wished to take, be it positive or not, we should respect the request of the parent. While this does have merit it clearly is in opposition to everything the child has been taught.

A second opinion is that the parent should understand that the child is a reflection of a lifetime of lessons, and thus should even if the parent does not want the child to act that way, should warmly embrace the child’s decision as a confirmation of good parenting.

For example, take a typical family, mother, father, (adult) son and (adult) daughter. Let’s place this family in a pre-Christmas discussion regarding gift giving. In this case the mother and father have lived a long life of frequently showing examples of generosity and compassion. In this scenario the children wish to purchase a gift for the parents. The parents reply to this saying that they need/nor want anything. Regardless of this, the children still insist on buying the gift, saying that the joy is in the thought of picking out the gift, the joy of giving. Clearly this goes against what the parents want, but at the same time it is clearly a perfect of example of the children having learned from the parents. How should the parents react? How should the children react?

Can the parents really enforce something that goes against a lifetime of learning? Oppose something that is so strongly ingrained in the children that it is akin to genetic conditioning. No answers from me, I only ask the questions not answer them.

There is an interesting side note to this discussion. Take the above scenario and apply to directly to the siblings. One sibling wants to give a gift, while the other sibling does not wish to receive it. There are no parent/child authority or respect guidelines. There are no clear-cut rules to follow. What happens in this case?

It would be somewhat ironic if this example ever came up in reality, where in one discussion the siblings were united against the parent, but in an identical discussion they were opposed.

In this case it is abundantly clear to me that the giving sibling is acting out of love, acting out of personal necessity. Yet, the receiving sibling, who in discussion with the parent was very outspoken about the joys of giving, struggles when found in the same situation.
It is never “do as I say”. It is do as I have lived my life. Do as I am when watched un-noticed. Do as I am when under stress, when busy, when angered. Do as I am when riding the crest of wave, or buried in the trough.

We are always reflections of those we love and admire, and even more importantly they are reflections of us. No matter how you try, what stances you take, how you swear at the mirror you cannot change the reflection that stands in front of you. It is better to gracefully accept what you are than waste energy trying to change that reflection.


At 12:25 PM, Anonymous mom said...

I write this with tears running down my face. I remember years ago when you held your firstborn and asked me so earnestly how you could possibly raise this child to become all that you hoped he would be when you felt so unprepared and unskilled for the task. My answer was simple...whatever you want him to be, you be ; whatever you do not want him to be, don't be. And I knew full well what a wonderful human he would grow up to be, because you yourself are that. I have need to learn one of life's most challenging to receive gratefully and graciously. There will no longer be discussions. I thank you for the insight.

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous sis said...

funny how life comes back to bite you directly in the butt!!! I guess I asked for it.

At 1:08 AM, Blogger Mommy abroad said...

Boy will I miss all the "Christmas Spirit" this year being away from home.

At 3:21 AM, Blogger Yoda's Papa said...

I can't believe that you have wasted your life in tech when you could have had a few degees in philosophy by now. I tried to follow the abstract logic...but alas it evaded me this time. But good to see you are back blogging -and sharing in keeping Grandmama forever in tears!

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Garrad said...

since I don't have to publish nor defend my work I can make the logic as obtuse as I want it to be. :-)

At 3:56 AM, Anonymous grandmaman said...

When your kids are young, you spend time playing referee. But it is soooo much fun just sitting back and watching them interact as adults. It just makes you understand how all the early years were so worth the effort. And how individual each child is and how good life is.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Yoda's Papa said...

Ya know, G-mama I seem to recall having the same discussion about the grandparents...

In any case, we are now seeing why Ubergeek needs to go back to school and get a creative writing degree!

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Garrad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Garrad said...



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