Thursday, May 10, 2012

Don't Wait Till It's Too Late

I read an article last week by a journalist who interviewed people for whom death was imminent. OK, don't get all gloomy on me, it really was about living life to it's fullest. Those interviewed were asked about regrets they had, missed opportunities, and how they wished they had lived their life differently. There was definitely a consensus on many of these life lessons. I wanted to share four of them that I felt really resonated with the parenting experience, and could really change the lives of you and your kids if you pay attention to them. Here Goes! My comments in italics

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a true life to myself, not the life others expected of me.  So often we are fulfilling someone else's dreams and expectations for us. This goes for children who feel the need to measure up to their parents expectations. Maybe you never followed the path you wanted because your parent's discouraged you. I used to teach adult students who came back to school to get their master's degrees in Eduction. Most of them had originally wanted to be teachers, but as college students, their parents discouraged them, pressuring them to go into more lucrative professions like business and the law. So many of my students described the lack of pleasure they got from their careers, fulfilling their parents expectations. Now as adults in middle age, and feeling the freedom to finally do what they wanted to do, they were giddy with excitement and curiosity.  Make sure as parents, you give your teens and young adults the freedom to chose who they want to become even if it doesn't fit your dream for them. 
  2. I wish I didn't work so hard. Sometimes work schedules can't be helped, but sometimes they can. Maybe you can't make it home every night for dinner, but I know you can 1 or 2. And then there are always the weekends. The research is unequivocal on this, when there is dedicated time for families, which may only be dinner for busy families, teens feel more connected and communicative, and engage in few risky behaviors! Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. I'm guessing here that they aren't talking about angry ones. Those are usually pretty easy to express, especially when you are in the middle of parenting your teens. Your teens may not present many opportunities for the non-angry ones. But find them you must. Also, this is not just about expressing feelings to someone else, but also expressing feelings about yourself. Kids need a model here. They need to hear when you are sad, disappointed, angry, frustrated, proud about things going on in your own life. If you are proud of something you challenged yourself to do and accomplished your goal, show and share your pride in yourself. Its a good thing! When you are disappointed in yourself for something, say it and share it with your kids. It's good for them to see you taking responsibility for your actions. You will be more likely than to see them do the same, and understand that even the all-mighty parents make mistakes too. It makes them feel less badly about their own. 
  4. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Remember these are people with no time left for a do-over. You and your kids on the other hand, do!

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