It's difficult to realize or summarize everything our parents provided, but acknowledging their gifts is an important step toward self awareness.
Throughout our adult life we sort through what our parents offered. We decide what we want to keep, what we want to let go of, and what we want to expand on. It's a necessary and important exercise, and it helps us figure out what we want to pass on to our children.
My parents gave my sister and I many gifts; my favorites being open mindedness, rationality, kindness, and the realization that we are here to support others.
My sister and I have been able to take these gifts and continue learning….both of us feel tuned into energy and a deeper sense of self, and we know for sure that life is about relationships and love.
So I decided to ask my parents a few questions about their intentions….what were some of their hopes and dreams when raising us?
1. What was your greatest concern when you were parenting us?
2. What was your hope for us?
3. What was the greatest "gift" of parenting (what did it give you)?
4. What do you know now, that you didn't know then, that might help parents today?
My mom and her answers:
My mom is Judy Cassani and she is a retired 6th grade teacher. I think I felt some pressure being a teacher's child, but I was also very lucky because kids would often tell me that she was their favorite teacher; she is very easy to like.
My mom has always been open minded to holistic health, and I was raised with alternative ways of healing. She has always been interested in self care and wellness, and I find all of my favorite self help books on her shelf. It's easy to make my mom laugh and she is most happy when she is with her family.
1. After safety and health, learning to "play well with others".
2. That you would be happy in and with your life...whatever "happy" meant to you, not us.
3. Unconditional love.
4. That we should have had more humor, fun, and "play time" together.
My dad and his answers:
My dad is John Cassani, a retired educator and administrator. My dad has always been very focused on helping others and making sure that everyone has an opportunity for education and employment. He is also a believer in the power of the mind, and he calls on "Cassani luck" to help him through difficult times and to locate rock star parking spaces.
Against the odds my dad survived a heart attack and stroke 11 years ago, and he lost some of his ability to communicate. But he also found his smile - if you look at photographs from my childhood he is serious, but for the last 11 years he has smiled for every picture.
1. Hoping you would choose good friends.
2. That you would be happy and successful in your life - in your eyes.
3. That you were able to become successful adults.
4. That you need to relax and enjoy your family more.
And now I pass these questions on to you. Offer them (and some of your own) to your parents or loved ones, and don't forget to answer these questions for yourself. Are your daily experiences moving you toward or away from these hopeful outcomes?
Maybe this exercise will help you see your parents more clearly, or yourself more clearly.
Maybe it will offer a new perspective, a new direction, or a way to bring greater clarity to your day to day life as parent.
Hopefully you will feel a sense of gratitude, for what you have been given and what you have to offer.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.