A word to the wise

I give my kids lots of good advice.

“Don’t worry about other people’s behaviour,” I say. “You can’t change that. Think about your own behaviour instead. Try to remember that other people’s actions are not your responsibility. A sense of justice is a fine thing, but you need to strike a balance between wanting everyone to do the right thing and interfering in other people’s business.”

“That’s really tough,” I tell them. “It can be hard to find the right balance, and sometimes you will get it wrong. Sometimes you’ll do the wrong thing, or upset people (and not achieve what you wanted anyway), and you’ll really regret what you did. It’s really important to do your best to make amends, but it’s also really important not to beat yourself up over it. You’re human. You’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll hurt people. Do your best to fix it, but accept that you made a mistake. Learn from it and try to move on.”

“If you keep beating yourself up over the mistakes that you make,” I say, “it’s really hard to learn from them and avoid them next time. You just wind up on a downwards guilt spiral that makes life miserable for you and everyone around you.”

“Try to stop and take a deep breath when things are overwhelming you,” I advise them. “It’s really hard to do, but it will save you a whole lot of trauma in the long run. It takes practice, and sometimes you won’t manage it. When you don’t take that deep breath and instead go off like a fire cracker, try to cut yourself some slack. Make amends as best you can, and try to learn from it.”

“Sometimes taking deep breaths when you don’t need to is just as important as taking them when you do,” I suggest to them. “Make some space for stillness in your lives. Take the time to watch the wind in the trees, or listen to the lorikeets squawking in the trees.”

“Above all, remember that you are a good person, you are well loved, and you are trying really hard,” I say. “Don’t forget that you’ll never be perfect, but you are awesome the way you are. Believe in yourself, because you’re amazing.”

I give my kids a lot of good advice. If only I could follow it.

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One thought on “A word to the wise

  1. Joe

    The easiest recommendations to make to our kids can be the ones we feel are obviously causing difficulty in our own lives.

    Then again… would you have more faith in a “don’t do drugs” message from an angelic lifetime do-gooder, or from a struggling/recovering addict?

    Alas though, they do what we do not what we say. At least now we can gain tentative emotional comfort from the ever growing mountain of research that says it really is significantly genetic… they’re gonna be quite a lot like us in spite of all our and their best efforts.

    (ps speaking of deep breaths… any tips on getting a 3yo to breathe rather than hold/gasp/suck/hold?)

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