My dad is getting older (no surprises there) and we are having some great discussions these days all about life. I love the conclusions he is coming to.
Some people seem to go through life and become more and more convinced that what they believe is damn well 100% right and that’s all there is to it (the blinkers slowly close in over the years), other people live and all they really learn is that they really know very little at all. I like this latter kind the best and that is what seems to be happening to dad and I…the more we learn the less we know.
We talked about parenting. There are stacks and stacks of books and books and seminars and classes and methods about how to parent. I have friends whose parenting styles are as different as pigs and bricks.
It’s rather mind boggling and utterly confusing.
There are so many empirical methods with spruikers calling their own methods the one and only from ‘to smack or not to smack’, ‘to cloth diaper or disposable diaper or even to just free-ball it’, ‘to homeschool or private/public school’ and parents agonize over all these little decisions which eventually add up to a life – their precious child’s life! It’s a big deal. And everyone is out there trying to drag parents through their own doors.
But, you know what: the problem offers its own conclusion. There is so much information out there. There are so many different ways of going at it that basically it all boils down to this: Everyone does it differently and raising children is all a big experiment every time around. Infinitesimal variability exists, so why bother over analysing.
From going through the methods (well, just those I’ve managed to get around to) in all their muddy detail I can’t settle on just one. Basically I like this approach: Be as well informed as you can be then just throw the books out the window and do the best you can.
Ultimately that is what we will all have ended up doing. No person will ever parent perfectly (though some delude themselves), and all we can do is simply ‘the best we can’ and then after that we can only admit that we’ve made mistakes and let our children run off and make their own mistakes.
That. Is life.
That brings me to something else I’ve been thinking about and that is that the most important thing for a parent to say to their children (I think it may be as important as ‘I love you’ – because it does in fact demonstrate love.) is: I’m sorry.
‘I’m sorry’ is a perfect little phrase that sums up so much: I’m human too, I make mistakes, I think you are important enough for me to be humble about my failings to, I love you, you’re great and deserve better. That kind of stuff.
And that is the conclusive way to parent your kids.