God has blessed me with a multi-dimensional perspective of both children, and parents. Over the past years, I’ve had an opportunity to work with students of all ages, elementary to college, and most recently, I’ve been traveling speaking to groups of parents. No matter the format or location, race or economic status, there are indeed some common threads. One obvious thread is the disconnection between the child’s view of the parents and the parents’ views of themselves.
To a certain degree, we are all products of our parental perceptions…our overall opinion of the parents we experienced. If you dig deep into the triumphs, struggles, and pain of even grown adults, some aspect of their childhood and parental experiences are sure to arise. I know many believe that one’s life is based solely on one’s decisions, but have we truly considered how one’s perception of their parents and childhood influence their decisions? How many of us are parenting based on the way our parents parented? How many of us are relating to our spouses based on the way we saw our parents relate? Usually, as adults, we are doing one of two things: (1) emulating what we perceive our parents were, or (2) trying really hard not to do or be what we perceive our parents were.
If you talk to any teacher, school administrator, or family counselor, I’m sure they can run from memory a list of “delusional” parents they’ve encountered. Those of us who are so convinced about the parent we think we are, we are unwilling to consider the parent we really are. Absolutely every time I speak to a group of parents, I’m sure to emphasize one very important point, “It’s not about the parent you think you are, but the parent your children perceive you to be.” This thought is very difficult for many of us to digest, especially considering our own efforts and opinions, but I challenge you to do one thing today… Consider the perspective of your child regarding your actions and non actions as a parent.
Think about what you do, what you say, how you prioritize your time, and the impact all these things will have on the parent your children perceive you to be, and the parents they will one day become. Improvement is impossible without self assessment and acknowledgement of a need to improve. Re-evaluate your practices as a parent based on the parent you want your children to remember!