Teaching our Children What We Still Haven’t Learned
I am a huge fan of Pat Lemieux. I love how important being a dad is to him and I am blown away that he blogs about parenting in such a candid and vulnerable fashion. In his latest piece Pat explores the importance of teaching his son the concepts of moderation and balance.
Once upon a time I aspired to teaching my kids these lessons. In the end, they are two more stellar examples of how my hypocrisy was an insurmountable obstacle to teaching certain life lessons.
I’ve spent very little time in moderation and balance has always been elusive. This is primarily due to my desire to do exceptionally cool things in collaboration with great people more or less all the time. It used to be all the time but I got old. I need the occasional nap now. Bottom line – never expect your children to accept or to model what we as parents do not. No matter how well you hide your double standards, your kids will instinctually pick up on it.
I was the best kind of hypocrite: I only judged me and my efforts – no one else’s. The problem with the standards I held for me is that they were unattainable. In order to practice moderation we must determine: – How much is enough? (all of it) – How good is good enough? (as well as It can be done)
Ultimately the most profound of mixed messages my children received was me telling them and showing them unconditional love and acceptance while denying myself these same gifts.
To achieve balance requires that we know what our priorities are, attend to them mindfully, accurately assess where they’re at, and be willing to move on to the next work in progress.
My understanding of balance was that there were three areas of my life: my family, my career, and myself. I knew to work very hard to be a good provider (70-90 hours a week at work I hated). I knew to devote enormous amounts of time and energy to being present and playing with my children (nonstop silliness, cuddling, book reading, video games and approximately 800,000 balls thrown). I just never knew to take care of me (no sleep, hobbies, or date nights).
There are so many things I sought to teach my kids and they just seemed to contradict each other. How do you encourage your kids to kick ass in life while ensuring they not go to extremes? How does one do passion, love, art, and purpose in moderation?
Every parent does harm. It’s unavoidable. Both of my kids work too hard. Both are very demanding of themselves. By all indications, they are living kick ass lives and that’s what makes me happiest as I reflect this father’s day.