These aren’t parenting strategies. Parenting strategies to me are like fad-diets. Raise your kids like Europeans! Raise your kids like Chinese! Raise your kids like cavemen! However you raise your kids, you will succeed and fail. Just love them and stop telling everyone else how to raise their kids.
Anyhow, I’ve been a parent now for 5 1/2 years, so this isn’t to say that I know much of anything about parenting at this point. Years from now, we’ll let the therapists decide that. These are more my thoughts on how I feel as a parent:
#1 Kids give you less time to change the world, but more of a reason.
I’m fortunate that my work reaches people and hopefully changes the way they see and interact with the world in a positive way. Every so often a bold audience member at one of my talks asks if my work has improved the lives of the folks I write about. I think I surprise them when I say, “No.”
To my knowledge, none of the farmers or factory workers have seen their lives improve because they shared their stories with me. My hope is that the world their children grow up in will be a little more fair and filled with a little more opportunity, and it would be wonderful if my work played a part in that. And maybe their kids and mine will live in a world that is more connected and conscious of the lives on the other side of the world that each of theirs impacts.
So I write. I tell stories. And at night when I put the pajamas on my kids after bed time, we look at the labels on their clothes and talk about the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, and beyond.
#2 My kids make me believe in magic. (Of course they also make me believe in demonic possession.)
This weekend we visited Annie’s grandma, who hasn’t been doing the best lately, in a nursing home. We can never be sure how our son Griffin, who is three and on the autism spectrum, will act in a new place filled with strangers. He constantly surprises us, though. When we entered the visiting room at the nursing home, Griffin went right up to his great-grandma Betty, said “Hi!” and leaned in for a hug and kiss. And then leaned in for more. For a little dude who isn’t the best with eye contact, he continually looked her in the eye and gave her hugs.
I have never seen him shower someone with so much affection.
Betty is 93, and at that age you can never be sure how long she’ll be with us. Griffin, apparently, wanted to soak up every moment with her. It was pure magic.
So there are moments like that. But there are also moments when the kids sprout horns and conspire to thwart our parenting efforts, and inspire us to research child-proof, padded cages, and toddler exorcists.