Remember, I'm supposed to be reflecting on my parenting journey. So, in today's post, I'd like to share one of the most important parenting lessons my daughter taught me. Here's what happened:
One of my children may have missed her calling; she would have been a great lawyer. As a child, whenever she came at me with, “Dad, have you considered . . . ?” I knew I was up for a challenge. Even as a youngster, she had this remarkable ability to think outside the box.
She was incredibly persuasive, and as I listened to her, I found myself changing my point of view. She was convincing, this daughter of mine. In the end, she may have taught me one of my most important parenting lessons: Flexibility.
Though it happened with regularity, I can remember one event in particular, where her perspective changed our family. It all started with vacation plans. Raelene and I wanted to head to Hawaii; she wanted the whole family to take a “mission vacation.”
What kind of kid wants to trade Hawaii for a mission trip?
Though I did my best talking, not sunshine, not surfing, not sandy beaches would change her mind. As she presented her case, I began to listen, to really listen, and I found myself moving toward her point of view. Our family took a mission vacation.
There I saw my kids do things they’d never done at home. They grew in compassion, purpose, and empathy. While Raelene and I cleaned toilets and worked in the kitchen we saw our kids become more like the Savior. It was hard, hot, uncomfortable work; but looking back, my grown kids say it was one of the best things our family ever did.
I have to admit; it wasn’t my idea. It came from “the persuader.” And if I hadn’t been flexible, if I hadn’t listened, if I hadn’t been willing to do something other than dictate the parental plan I might have missed out on the best vacation ever! At least the kids think so.
What about you? What lessons have you learned from your kids?
Greg Sutherland, DDS MS
(With Bette Nordberg)