Parenting is probably one of the most difficult jobs people have, but it also tends to be the most rewarding. Parents definitely play an important role in the lives of their children; from showing them unconditional love and supporting them financially, to teaching them important life lessons. But have you ever thought about learning from your children? Interestingly enough, kids have a way of teaching their parents important values and life lessons, even though that is often not their intention.
Learning is never ending, and we must be open to the possibility that we can learn life lessons from various sources. One avenue for personal growth (albeit surprising) is our children. Below are some of the important life lessons you can learn from your children:
1. Play more and have fun
Adulthood can be very hectic. There is always something you need to do or worry about. You need to go to work, take your kids to school, do repairs at home, go to seminars, and then go back to work… Because this cycle is continuous, you soon convince yourself that you do not have time to play or have fun. And even when you do have a minute or two to relax, chances are you will spend that time on Netflix, or some other activity related to a computer screen. While working and worrying about the well-being of our kids are important, these tasks do not have to consume our entire lives.
A child’s full-time job is playing and having fun. And they are often tireless in begging their parents to play with them. Children can spend hours playing and they are very creative in the “tools” they use to entertain themselves. This is one of the most important life lessons you can learn from your children. And even though the following argument is counter to what research shows, most adults believe that “play” is reserved for children. Follow your child’s lead and you will soon realize that play can help relieve stress, and help you be more relaxed, creative and productive at work. So, try taking some time to play hide-and-seek with your kids, throw a football in the park with your partner, or throw a ridiculous costume party for your friends. There are so many benefits you are going to enjoy, if you start playing and having fun again.
2. Live in the moment
Because children have short memories and have very little life experience, they live completely in the “here and now”. Joy, sadness, hunger, thirst, pain, elation, humour, etc., are always immediate, forgotten quickly and there is virtually no introspection about past mistakes or future life.
Of all the life lessons you learn from your children, this one is probably the most difficult to apply. Why? Because reflecting about the past, formulating changes (goal setting), then trying to achieve these goals, are critical signs of growth and being a responsible adult. Problems arise because many of us become so obsessed with replaying past moments, goal setting and achievement, that we stop living in the moment.
So, why is it important to live in the moment, just like your kids? Mostly because “now” is what you are sure of – it is what you can control. Currently, there is no technology available that can help you alter past events, and plans don’t always manifest themselves the way you want them to. Living in the moment will help you appreciate your life now. It will help you enjoy all the love and blessings that make up your life, and you will be less stressed while doing so. Stop worrying for a minute and live in the moment.
3. Plan for the future because you will spend the rest of your life there
Even though it is important to live in the moment, that does not mean you should completely stop thinking about the past and planning ahead. It is probably more important to find a balance between living in the now and setting goals for the future.
Even before our children are born, we must come to the realization that planning for their future is crucial. Just in terms of finances, it costs approximately US$233,000 to raise a child to the age of 18. And this does not include the cost of sending your child to college. The life lesson here is that having children means planning for your future as well as theirs.
4. Persistence can lead to success
This life lesson is often learned through many annoying interactions with your child. How many times have you told your child “no”, just to “give in” later, so he will stop bothering you? Bet you have done this countless number of times, especially when you were doing something important and you really needed some peace and quiet. This is your child unintentionally teaching you that you can often get what you want if you are persistent enough.
We all have goals we are trying to achieve. Once we set these goals, we frequently realise that the journey will not be an easy one. Persistence can be the key. If you are trying to lose weight, for example, chances are you won’t succeed by simply going to the gym one time. You need to be persistent. If you are trying to sell a new product, lots of people are going to tell you “no”. When this happens, just think about how your children respond to hearing the word “no”. You will surely have better results.
5. Patience really is a virtue
When you have your first child, you quickly learn that your adult brain is no match for your child’s brain. Young children do what they want, when they want – they basically function on their own timetable, and there is nothing you can do about it. You will soon learn that patience is one of the keys to surviving parenthood.
Certainly, you can try to coax young children to behave a certain way, but in the long run, you must wait until things unfold the way they do.
Have you ever decided that the family is going to leave the house at 2 p.m. for a picnic? Well, little Suzy might decide that she does not want to go, and you find yourself spending about an hour negotiating with her.
6. Unselfish love
Remember the good old days when you were single? “The world was your oyster”. You could come and go as you pleased. All decisions that you made were based on your best interest, because that was all that mattered to you.
How things have changed since that “bundle of joy” came into your life.
We experience many types of love in our lifetime, but having a child soon teaches us to love unselfishly. Being a parent means being selfless. Your child soon becomes the most important being in your life.
Children do not understand inflation rates, how hard it is to find a job, or the fact that you have been tired or depressed lately. When they are hungry they look for food on the table and when they feel cold they expect you to turn up the heat. And this is why you might find yourself tirelessly working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Your goals in life are now to make sure that your children have the essentials and are happy and content…even if it means you have to go to bed hungry.
There are so many important life lessons we can learn from our children, especially if we decide to pay attention. Sometimes going back to the basics, just like children, is what we need.