Everybody you meet in your life has something to teach you. That is particularly true for your own kids.
Here are 6 invaluable lessons I discovered when looking back at my life as a parent so far:
- FOCUS ON THE GOOD – Don’t dwell in the negative things that happen in your life. Instead look at the positive elements and use those recharging moments to fuel you for the struggle ahead.
- “IRREVERSIBILTY” CREATES COMMITMENT – Having kids binds you for life. This commitment is the source of your strength. Create the same kind of commitment for all relevant areas of your life by turning them “mentally irreversible”
- REVISIT YOUR INSECURITIES – Rethink your self-doubts. If you can take responsibility over another human life as a parent, there is really nothing that you can’t handle within your own life.
- YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL – Whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of it or not…. your behavior is picked up by others around you and serves them to validate their own. Aim to be inspiring.
- LET GO OF CONTROL – Most of our frustrations are related to the fact that we want to control something. Accept what is, as it is, and gain peace of mind.
- GIVE WITHOUT EXPECTATIONS – Put in the effort because it is the right thing to do. Don’t expect anything in return, including acknowledgment.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND QUOTES:
Hi everybody it’s Tasso.
In a previous post, I mentioned to you that mentors are everywhere. That every person you meet in your life has something to teach you. Well that’s particularly true for children; for your kids.
Today I want to share with you six life lessons that I learned from my kids that helped me tremendously with my personal development. But before we dive into those, I want to mention two things as caveats up-front.
First, we all are on different paths of our lives. We have all different weaknesses or “areas to improve”. Actually things that parenting and having kids reveals to us. You might resonate with some of those things that I’m about to tell you and maybe not resonate with others, that’s fine. Undoubtedly, you will have had your own lessons and your own experiences from your situation when you look back at it.
Second, of course these are not lessons you only get through parenting. These life lessons are universal but in my case they were revealed to me through my kids.
Let’s get into these six life lessons.
Lesson number one: focus on the good.
Having kids, you will have realized, is very hard. When I say hard, I mean really, really hard. Yet, if you ask people with kids to tell you about their life with kids, they will tell you things such as “they’re so adorable, it’s fantastic, it’s great, it so joyful.”
No it’s not. 90% of the time it’s hard.
Then why would they say that? Do they want you to make the same mistake as they did and suffer for the rest of your life? Do they want to make sure that you don’t opt out from the evolutionary ‘must do’ which is populating the world? No, of course it has nothing to do with that.
They say that because they believe it. They say that because they remember the good times. Let’s face it, 10% of the time it’s amazing. It’s this unconditional love, you experience joy, the pride when you see them grow and develop…you name it, all these feelings that are associated with parenting and having kids.
Where is the lesson you might ask? Well, if we instinctively do it right and focus on the positive things in parenting and kids, why can we not do the same thing for the other areas of our lives?
You know every job sucks, every project sucks, every relationship sucks, but there are always these 10% that make the effort worthwhile.
We should not be looking at having everything hunky-dory. Instead we should take these wonderful moments and cherish them and not lose them amidst all the negativity. We should take these recharging moments and fuel us for the struggle that is ahead of us.
Lesson number two: irreversibility creates commitment.
I read this for the first time in Gretchen Ruben’s book the Happiness Project. By the way it’s a great book, if you have not read it yet I really recommend it. It’s a book full of insights. Go get it, read it. It’s worthwhile.
There she mentioned something that struck me. Everything in our lives is reversible. Buying a house is reversible, you can resell it. Getting a job it’s reversible, even our marriages are reversible. But it’s not the same thing with kids.
Once you have kids, they’re there for life. You cannot “undo” kids. This creates an amazing commitment and this commitment is a source of your strength. This commitment is the basis for all achievement and accomplishment. This commitment makes you say, “I’m going to do this no matter what.”
The question here that I ask myself and the question to you is, could we generate the same kind of commitment for our jobs, our relationships if we turn it “mentally irreversible”. What if we told ourselves that quitting is simply not an option?
Lesson number three: Revisit your insecurities.
We all have insecurities. “I am not good at this”, “I can’t do that”, “what will other people say about me?” But look at this; have you had these same feelings about parenting? When you planned to have a family? No you didn’t.
For most of the things in our lives we need some sort of license or exam. You need a driver’s license to drive a car, you need an exam to graduate and to find a job. But there’s no such thing for parenting. Kids don’t come with a manual.
You see, if you take this spiritually, God or the universe or whatever you might believe in, gave you responsibility over a human being. He gave you responsibility over a life and you were ok with it.
When you planned for a family, you said, “I want to have a family.” There was no doubt about that, no saying to yourself “but maybe I’m not being able to handle it”.
Sure, once you’re in it, you will have a lot of feelings of insecurity and doubt. “Am I doing the right things or am I not doing the right things”. But this is just whilst you’re in the game, you are never held back by these doubts up front.
This is particularly impressive when you think about the struggles you go through. It’s not only about the practical things. That you have to rearrange your life to fit in the schedules of the kids. It’s also about the emotional roller coaster that go through. That you feel helpless so often for instance, when telling your kids “do this” or “don’t do this” and they ignore you or say no. You can bribe them, you can punish them, but there’s nothing you can do and you feel helpless.
Yet, no such thing as doubt when you say, “I want a family.” Why can we not have the same kind of attitude for other areas of our lives. “I want to have that job”. “I want to have that lifestyle”. Then go and do it.
Somebody or something up there believes that you can handle another life. I think it’s time for you to believe that you can handle some minor things in your own life.
Lesson number four: you are a role model.
My dear friends, this lesson was for me the main reason why I started this initiative and my blog “RolemodelU“.
You will have read it or you will have seen this quote somewhere: they say that kids don’t do as you tell them to, kids do it as they see you do.
For me the “aha moment” was when I once put my kid to bed and he was making a mess. I screamed at him to make him silent. Instead he yelled back at me. Then it dawned upon me, because I realized that of course he will scream back at me. This is what I showed him (wrongly), to be the way to handle the situation we were in.
You see, this is not only the case with kids. You are a role model, everywhere, at any time. Because we as humans are wired to look up to others for guidance and benchmark. We are comparing ourselves and we are looking for other people’s behaviors to validate our own behavior and beliefs. You are a role model whether you want it or not, whether you are aware of it or not. You better be a good one.
Lesson number five: Let go of control.
Let me ask you: Do you like order? Do you like your white couches to stay white? Do you have slight OCD tendencies? Well then good luck with kids.
Kids teach you to live in a mess. But there’s more to it. When I talk about control there is more to it.
Every time you get angry or upset in a situation with the kids, if you analyzed it, most of the times you will realize that it is because the situation did not turn out the way you planned it to.
For instance, if you wanted to go quickly out to the supermarket and take the kids with you and it took you two hours to dress them up and get out of the house, rather than the 10 minutes that it would take a usual adult to get out, you get upset and angry. But it’s not their fault. It’s your fault because it was your false expectations.
Expectations are always the source of frustration. This is something that we need to keep in mind also outside of parenting. Most of our frustrations are related to the fact that we want to control something, we want to anticipate something and this is not always the way things work.
Lesson number six: Give without expecting anything in return.
This is related to the “expectation” point above, but is somewhat particular. I’m going to explain to you why.
I always fall into the same trap. Because it would be so nice if for once this would actually turn out to be true.
What do I mean?
When you do something nice for your kids; you buy them chocolate or a present they always wanted, or you drive 60 kilometers somewhere to get them to play in a fancy indoor playground and they have an amazing day. You would expect maybe for two, three days they would remember what a great thing daddy did and maybe give you some peace.
But reality is, as soon as you go back home, peace is over. When you give you should not expect anything in return. And I don’t talk about material things here. You see, that in this case the only thing you’d expect back is that they would recognize the effort you make. They would recognize and reward you for that effort and the good things you did for them but it seems life’s not like this.
These are the six lessons that I wanted to share with you. The six lessons SO FAR, my kids are still young and as you know “small kids, small problems. big kids, big problems”.
So bring it on life! I guess there is much, much more to come.
I hope with this blog post I could show you that all struggle is meant for you to build your character and to distill and extract the lessons that are relevant for you to grow.
This is not only for parenting like this, this is generally in life. Every struggle, every problem actually has the same purpose: to teach you something.
I hope this helped you. I hope this inspired you to look maybe back at your personal situation, see what goes on in your life and maybe what the lessons are for you to extract.
Once you do this, please let me know what the things are that you have seen with your kids? What are the lessons that you learned? How are you implementing this in the rest of your life?
Thank you very much for watching. If you enjoyed this, please subscribe for more. Until the next blog post, all the best.