Parenting is hard…but so is being a kid. Sometimes other people can see things about our children that we can’t, but should.
People often talk about how they want to go back to seeing the world through a child’s eyes and I see every day in my daughters’ experience the benefits of doing that. Lately I’ve been reminded that it is often good for us to see our children through the eyes of others. My daughters are extremely different from each other, but both manage to have quirks they inherited that immediately get under my skin. I had this discussion recently with a friend and we were talking about how challenging our kids can be and disappointed in the times we quickly get frustrated. He reminded me of a work meeting where I had my daughters and they were driving me crazy, I thought they were out of control…he hardly noticed. It was more likely he noticed my agitation.
It got me to thinking about how many times I’m anxious or frustrated or challenged by their behavior in public or at a friend’s house when the reality is they are nice, sweet, polite, well behaved children.
What if I saw them more often through the eyes of people that aren’t around them every day? Would I treat them differently? Would I talk to them differently?
Our friends, acquaintances or people we see in public tend to give children’s behavior a pass, particularly if they are also parents. They get it. They’ve been through the same struggle. But if I could take a second to step back and see that perspective more often myself, the better I would be as a father.
If we saw them like the people at the table next to us at dinner, would we see their antics as charming and funny? If we saw them as their teachers do, would we see how much joy they get out of helping? If we saw them the way our friends do, would we see how much they reflected our personalities?
If we looked at them through other people’s eyes would we see more than the way they talk back? Would we also see the way they look at us? Would we realize what they are capable of all on their own?
When I talk with friends about our similar challenges parenting, we often end up being pretty hard on ourselves. This comes from the insecurity of knowing we really don’t know what the hell we are doing actually, and see our children’s behavior as a reflection of our ability as a parent. Simple concept but many days impossible to remove ourselves from. But I think if we saw what other people see, we would give ourselves a well deserved pass. We would be proud of the children we are raising, even if it feels in spite of our efforts.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/ann_jutatip
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