Yesterday I listened to a radio show about parenting,
specifically how we can best raise successful children.
There were many points of view, but
Author Elizabeth Lesser's perspective was the most
illuminating. She described "two sides" of parenting, both
vitally important for the successful development of a child.
She described each side as a wing, because if used
together they allow our children to fly.
This resonated deeply, and I felt compelled to share my
interpretation of her message.
The first wing is boundaries and
structure. We hear this all the time, but what does
this really mean?
It means keeping your children safe and teaching them how to
function within a society.
It means setting limits and keeping up your end of the bargain
instead of giving in because it's easier. It means teaching
your children to take care of themselves so they can give instead
of just take.
Boundaries and structure are necessary to become a productive
member of community, to understand how to organize a day, to
respect authority, and to work for the common good.
And most important, boundaries and structure offer an innate
sense of safety, an understanding that life has a somewhat
predictable "flow", that stability is a lot more common than
The second wing is about seeing and accepting
who your children are and reflecting back what you see.
It's about appreciating their individuality, their special gifts,
their way of being, and teaching them to embrace this as their
It's about guiding them on their journey - not steering or
assuming, but supporting them as they discover what brings them
joy. It's about helping them find their inner voice and
teaching them to trust what they hear.
The two wings may appear to be in opposition, but in reality
they are perfect partners. Real challenges occur when one is
without the other.
All boundaries and structure with no nurturing of individuality
can lead to blind conformity, and sole focus on self awareness
without teaching limits and respect for others can lead to
But as balanced partners they are powerful. Together they
form a philosophy that allows children to embrace a life of purpose
and meaning, a commitment to giving and an ability to form a
connection to self, others, and the universe.
To me, there is no better definition of success.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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