At The Parenting Place’s 4-week Active Parenting course I’m currently teaching, we learn that the Purpose of Parenting is:
… to protect and teach our children to survive and thrive in the kind of society in which they will live.
The words survive and thrive have felt particularly poignant for me this weekend on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. As I’ve viewed parts of the ceremonies held in memory of the victims, I felt much compassion and respect for those left behind; so many, many of them parents, left to pick up the shattered pieces of their families’ lives, survive and, yes, thrive.
I was particularly moved to see and hear comments from children who lost parents that day. They were handed a legacy to live by, no doubt, and many of them spoke so passionately and eloquently about the years in between, their loss, yet their determination to survive and thrive – in memory and love.
One hears the same story over and over again, unfortunately, for those parents serving in our armed forces. Too many don’t make it home alive, or arrive with a severe disability. Others are lucky to be home again with their families. But military families, throughout history, have understood this challenge – to survive and thrive in the kind of society in which they will live.
I heard a news story recently about a mom, dad and young 3-year-old daughter involved in a serious car accident. The mom, trapped in the front seat, twisted as best she could, to find that her daughter, in her car seat in the back, was alive. Mom was suffering from injuries. She knew her husband, sitting beside her, was in critical condition.
Having access to her phone, she immediately called 911. Her daughter was hysterical, but she comforted her the best she could, unable to reach her, telling her help was on the way and it would be okay. And then she began to sing – her daughter’s favorite song – the alphabet song.
A B C D E F G ….. Her daughter stopped crying, was quiet, before joining in to sing together with her mom until the help came.
Courage -a mother, helping her child to survive and thrive – teaching her child to survive and thrive.
As we parent our own children, we can only hope to avoid such dire circumstances. But teaching our children to survive and also thrive in this world that we live in is an everyday choice – not just making it through but making it through with courage, self-confidence, trust and celebration of their own gifts and the contributions of others.
A mom called me on Friday morning – someone I had made home visits to years ago when I did the Parent Friend program. She said she always thinks about me at this time of year. We had had a home visit scheduled on the morning of September 11, 2001 which we both decided, in the face of what was happening in our world, to postpone to the next week.
Now her children are older – high school and middle school and she has some questions as she faces parenting teens. We set a time to talk.
As parents, it’s important to remember – to teach our children to survive and thrive – you don’t have to do it alone.