Parenting’s a funny thing isn’t it? Most important job in the world, with all these incredibly important decisions to make, and we won’t know if we got it right until our kids are grown, if then.
The only real measure we can use to see if we are successful parents is if our children become successful adults. And the definition of success varies depending on the parent. Some may want their kids to earn a lot of money, or move up the career ladder. Others may measure success in terms of academic achievement. Others still might look for popularity, having a family, a sense of adventure, religious affiliation, a love for others, a sense of ethics. Often, what we want for our kids is a reflection of what we value (or feel is missing) in ourselves. While many parenting decisions are made on the fly, our long term hopes and wishes for our kids will often determine how we parent.
I could never fit everything I wish for Tom into one post. But here are a few of the things that I hope he will have in his adult life:
1. The Basics
I hope he always has what he needs to survive (plus a little extra). Access to food, healthcare, shelter, clothing adequate to the weather, companionship, access to the outdoors, freedom to make his own choices.
2. A Purpose
I hope he occupies the majority of his time in a way that brings him joy and gives him a sense of purpose. Whether this is through work, volunteering, being creative, travelling, campaigning, studying – whatever it is, I hope he has something in his life that is more than just making and spending money.
3. Emotional Intelligence
I hope he is able to experience the whole range of human emotion – from ecstasy to despair – without feeling overwhelmed, guilty, or in any way ‘wrong’. I hope he can accept any emotion he might feel, and also recognise and accept the feelings of others.
I hope he has people around him who he loves and who love him. I do not care in what permutation this may be (assuming everyone is of legal age and consenting).
I hope he has a great relationship with Mr Techno and I. I hope we see him often. But I also hope he doesn’t need us. I hope he has his own identity, his own ideas, his own life. One of my key goals as a parent is to raise my child to leave me. Ideally without him realising how much it will kill me to let him go.
6. An Ethical Code
It doesn’t have to be my ethical code (though ideally it wouldn’t be too far different – I’d find an extremely right wing child a challenge to say the least). But I hope he has a strongly developed sense of what is right and what is wrong. I hope he lives his life by it. But I also hope he has room in his personal philosophy to listen respectfully to others, consider their viewpoints, and maybe even change his mind once in a while.
There you have it. Six things I hope that we will be able to lay the foundation for Tom to have in his adult life. These things (and other, less overarching goals) are what I have in mind when Mr Techno and I make major parenting decisions.
But ultimately, it is Tom’s life. And who he will become is down to him. So maybe the only person who will be able to tell me if I was a success as a parent is my son. Better get a move on with that language development then!
What about you? How would you measure success as a parent?