Becoming a Parent by Being a Parent

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
― Aristotle

In parenting, we must be willing to step into the darkness of ignorance and learn through action. In order for this active-learning to make us good mothers and fathers, we should be humble enough to see what works, and what doesn’t – and adapt accordingly. Its a poor engineer that won’t admit when his bridge is starting to lean.

It can be a bit unsettling to consider that each new mother is handed a precious spirit and she really has no idea how to be a mother. Yet, we are compensated for lack of experience with love, with desire, with access to the wisdom and experience of others, and with many hours of practice before us. Our children will learn much more from a mother who courageously changes direction when things aren’t working than from a mother who stubbornly keeps her course when things go wrong.

I remember in high school my friend’s mother had an “epiphany” and threw his video game console out with the trash. He didn’t take it well, but his mother refused to get him another one. His anger slowly abated and by the end of the year he admitted that he was probably better off.

Start a new tradition, drop an old habit, shift your family culture in a new direction. We can keep learning through trial and error in the 18 years we have with our child, parenthood is a long apprenticeship. Being a “Master parent” is not defined by the same terms as a Master Tailor or Master Carpenter, we don’t have infinite power over parental outcomes, human souls are not as malleable as wood or fabric. However, if we are humble, it is never too late to repair and improve our parenting and our relationship with our children.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”
— Carl Rogers

Artwork by Robert Panitzsch

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