Have you ever peered through the cockpit of an aircraft to see how pilots fly a plane? They can manually fly the plane by taking the controls and steering the aircraft in the right direction for many miles. After a while, the Pilot may decide to tell the plane where to go by activating the autopilot. He or she is constantly watching, just in case something goes wrong with the controls thereby affecting the flight or the plane. Ultimately, this pilot is in control of that plane.
We do not usually become parents by getting two or three degrees in parenting. We have the children and then we start to gain the experience we need for parenting by BEING parents. Our parenting experiences come from others areas of life as well. We gather experiences from the way we were brought up or not brought up by our parents, guardians or grandparents. Our experiences are also influenced by listening to other parents who have been in the game longer than we have. For example, our own parents, siblings, colleagues, neighbours, relatives and the list goes on.
However, we might tend to consciously or unconsciously set the ‘auto pilot button on our children more often than we take control of our duty as parents half expecting them to know what to do.
A mother who happens to be at home with two or three children under six years of age might tend towards this when things get a bit too much and she becomes overwhelmed. This does not happen all the time but the danger is in allowing this period to become business as usual.
The parents of a teenager may also activate this button in their child because they think ‘he should be able to handle himself now’ Or ‘she’s old enough to know what to do now’. So they go hands-free on these children expecting them to arrive at the destination that they, the parents have at the back of their minds for the children.
I am a strong believer in being present as a parent. Having a child is not the last and the only achievement that we must have as parents but it is part of our journey. Once we become parents, it cannot be undone. Even at times when the loss of a child happens, the parents of that child cannot tell their life story without including the part that they were parents and the child will continue to live in their hearts. Therefore, in our other pursuits of life, we must not forget that our presence in the lives of our children is what matters to them most. They will remember our presence or absence more than anything material gift we give them for a long time. It is our presence or absence that create memories that linger for a lifetime.
As our days get busier and our dreams become bigger we must consciously make room to be present in the lives of our children. The hired help or family member who looks after them in our stead is not our replacement. But sadly, sometimes, it does happen that parents have lost their grip, their place, and influence because they were not present. It is more bearable to fail at very many things in life than it is to fail as a parent. It is difficult to live without the pain that this kind of failure brings because our children are extensions of ourselves. When God made everything, plants, animals and finally human beings, he expected everything he created to reproduce after its own kind(sort).
Our lives as parents is a life of giving and selflessness and it lasts longer than we think regardless of the stages at which our children are. Therefore, we must make efforts to be present. It is alright if you missed the day your child took his or her first step. There will be many more milestones for that child to achieve and even challenges to overcome but when they look back at events of their lives, let it be said that you were present.
Don’t set your parenting on auto-pilot, be hands- on not hands free. Parenting is presence. You can be present.
P.S Please leave your comments. Have a fantastic week.