I would probably have tried less to make my son like me or be happy with me and would focus more on my marriage and my own life.
Susan Stiffelman, author: Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected.
PARENTING WITH PERSPECTIVE – HINDSIGHT AND INSIGHT FROM SEASONED PARENTS AND CHILD-REARING EXPERTS
What parent has not wondered from time to time “If I only knew then what I know now…”
The things we wish we could redo, our “mistakes” so to speak can actually be gifts in disguise. Life’s blunders can often lay the trails that enable us to raise strong children.
Parenting With Perspective – Hindsight and Insight From Seasoned Parents and Child Rearing Experts, my book in progress, asks not only parents, but parenting experts, what if anything they would do differently if they “knew then what they know now.” Contributors to the book were also invited to write a brief note to their “younger selves” as they were beginning the parenting journey.
Some excerpts from the book:
Now that my sons are grown men (one with a child of his own), I can see clearly that so much of the stress and fear and neurotic guilt I cloaked myself in brought an unnecessary heaviness to the parenting experience. I spent a lot of time fretting about who my kids would turn out to be, when they already were those people. I think back to all those sleepless nights I spent worrying or comparing my boys to other kids (Is that “normal” for a two year old? Shouldn’t a 5 year old be more social? Are teens always this way? Why is he so stubborn? So shy? So wild? So disorganized?) That time would have been better spent sizing up exactly who my little ones already were, helping them tune into their daimon, nurturing the seeds of their particular genius, and then getting out of the way so that they could put their own souls in charge of their life.
Elizabeth Lesser – Oprah Soul Series Host and Author of, Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow.
I would spend as much time as possible taking my children to the zoo, to a park, to a museum, on walks, and to the beach with two purposes in mind. First, I would simply want unstructured time to BE with them – just to soak up their BEING and spiritually inhale their essence. Second, on these outings I would pay careful attention to what interested THEM. I woke to this necessity once when my then teenaged son and I were visiting prep schools. I busily began pointing out to him what interested ME about the school. Then I had an epiphany that my wife and I could make a better choice for our son if we knew what turned HIM on. I spent the rest of the trip observing him. A whole new world opened for me as a person and as a parent. I wish I had been more observant when our children were young kids.
Reverend Ed Bacon – Oprah Soul Series Host and author of, 8 Habits of Love -Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind
Your son was born yesterday. Your firstborn. You take him home tomorrow. No doctors. No nurses. Just you, him and her. Two is now three. What joy!
All of your love, attention and affection is being showered on him today…as it should be. But the secret to his ultimate happiness and success does not lie in your relationship with him. It lies in your relationship with her.
Never, ever forget the deep love and respect you felt when for her when she made that final, exhausted ‘push’ that brought him into your world. Her sweaty face, her matted hair, her pallid complexion. And yet she never looked so beautiful. Hold that feeling over the years and it will turn out fine.
You see, as a Dad, you will have great influence over him. Your interests will become his interests. You will impact upon his tastes in music, sports and art. He will want to read that books that you read. You will cherish the time you spend with him. He will be proud of you…as you will be proud of him.
But she will be his greatest influence. She will teach him generosity, kindness and blind, unshakable loyalty. By her daily example and guidance, he will learn how to be a friend, a son, a brother, a husband … a man.
The irony of all that might be missed on you right now. But forty years from now, you will recognize this fundamental reality: The best thing that a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Educator and author of numerous books on learning disabilities including The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets To Tuning On The Tuned-Out Child and It’s So Much Work To Be Your Friend: Helping The Child With Learning Disabilities Find Social Success
I invite parents to share their thoughts on what they would do differently if they “knew then.” Below are some recently received comments. If you would like to share your thoughts through this forum, please contact me and I will add them to this page. Submissions may be considered for inclusion in the book.
I would work to accept the new reality sooner (whatever that is for [my ex] – new girlfriend, wife, family), and setting my anger or resentment aside, be as steady and cordial (businesslike) as I can with him for the sake of my children.
I would worry way less! Although I was quite prepared to help my sons negotiate questions like, “Why do you have two moms?,” I was less prepared for the question, “When am I old enough to use the men’s room?”
I think that getting in there and being part of the FUN a little bit more would be another thing I would do differently.
The first thing I would have done is get some help for my postpartum depression.
I would focus on “reacting less” and “responding more” to my children’s frustrations, complaints and tantrums.
I would do less cleaning up/getting things for her and let her do more for herself (even if it may take twice as long). I would follow through more. I would not waiver if my first answer is no – I am a softie by nature and have learned the hard way that I have to “stick to my guns”…that children need boundaries and I am not helping her if I give in at the slightest discomfort on her part.