Today I share with you something that came up as a topic of discussion between my husband and me as parents to our 11 year old. It was about examples, aka footprints, we are leaving behind or creating for our son to follow. In this day of new-age parenting all of us are well-informed about the lead-by-example theory and we try to do the best towards that. However, in our more weaker moments we are also passing onto him our attitude towards life.
The truth of everyday lack of family time, staying away from close family, etc. sometimes creates boredom in an urban life, one that is brought on by routine. We found ourselves being caught in this lately and did not realise when we started to talk about it openly. We often had discussions about how mundane office was, how dull our co-workers, nothing exciting happening, nothing to look forward to. Often we would say that we didn’t want to go to office just because we didn’t feel like it. While its good to have open discussions, it is important as parents that we must be mindful of what we are talking about in front of our kids.
We did not realise what was happening until recently we found our 11 year old often talk about lack of excitement in his life. He started talking about not wanting to go to school as nothing new was happening there, just studies. We were at a loss of how to explain to him that this was normal. School was supposed to have studies and anyway these days schools have enough extra-curricular activities to ensure a wide exposure to kids. But nothing seemed to make him happy. Last night when he complained again of complete lack of enthusiasm for life, it hit me and it hit me hard! I suddenly heard it for what it was – an echo of my own words. I realised that the way he was experiencing life was based on how I was portraying mine to him. These were the footprints that I was unknowingly leaving behind for him.
As an adult I have a way of consoling myself with the knowledge that life has to be made interesting and the excitement has to be found within. Nothing and no-one will come form somewhere to make my life interesting. I may not be successful in doing so everytime I feel down, but that has not stopped ,e from trying. But he is too young to get that. He is sinking in this whirl of melancholy created by us from which he doesn’t know how to come out.
So my friends, it is very important to be mindful of what we are saying and how we are saying it – to and in the presence of our kids, even if not directly to them. Every minute they are shaping their view on life based on how we view it and how we live it. We cannot expect him to find his own excitement when we are looking for it outside of us. I learnt two important lessons last night. One was what I was preaching to him – that life is exciting in itself only if we choose to make it so. And two, that the footprints we leave behind will shape the path our kids take so we better be careful not just in our actions but also in how we live our life.