Being the Adult I Want my Children to Become

“Are you the adult you want your child to grow up to be?” ~ Brené Brown from her book Daring Greatly.

Are we being honest here?

Because if we’re being honest, then – no, no I’m not.

I could hit the publish button right now and call this a post, but I’ve got a couple of things to add here.

From Daring Greatly – “…we should strive to raise children who:

  • Engage with the world from a place of worthiness
  • Embrace their vulnerabilities and imperfections
  • Feel a deep sense of love and compassion for themselves and others
  • Value hard work, perseverance, and respect
  • Carry a sense of authenticity and belonging with them, rather than searching for it in external places
  • Have the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and creative
  • Don’t fear feeling ashamed or unlovable if they are different or if they are struggling
  • Move through our rapidly changing world with courage and a resilient spirit

Now read every one of these things as a directive for yourself, like this:  Embrace your vulnerabilities and imperfections.  Feel a deep sense of love and compassion for yourself and others.  Carry a sense of authenticity and belonging with you, rather than searching for it in external places.  Don’t fear feeling ashamed or unlovable if you are different or if you are struggling.

I am becoming increasingly aware of how often my critical responses to my children are often reflections of my deepest insecurities. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I’ve made.  I think I can control their future by making sure they understand just how serious all of this is.  I admonish my son for forgetting to feed the cat, while remembering the time my parents left me in charge when I was fifteen, two years older than my son is now, and how I forgot to feed the horses and had nightmares for years afterward.  I try to remember to phrase my sentences as – You forgot to feed the cat, what might help you remember?  Instead of my knee jerk response of “Did you forget to feed the cat again?  Why can’t you ever remember to do that?”  Because, wow, there’s a world of difference between the two…  and yes, I’ve said both.  The first is when I’m being the adult I want my children to grow up to be and the second is the adult I hope beyond measure they never become.

I worry about what a neighbor is thinking when he asks how we are and my daughter responds with, “Yeah, baby Teddy can’t go on the pogo stick.  Baby Teddy might fall and hurt his head.  Baby Teddy will cry and have to go to hospital…” and then describes how the doctors are going to have to put a breathing mask on baby Teddy.  I stand there feeling increasingly uncomfortable, because I care what our friendly neighbor thinks or because I’m afraid of what this might say about me and the things we put her through years ago?  And even as I am writing this, I marvel at how she really was answering his question, far more honestly than I ever would dare.

The truth is my children are closer to the adult I’d like to be, but am not yet.  I figure since my husband is hard at work figuring out the whole anti-aging thing, I’ve got at least as many decades ahead of me as I’ve got behind me to work on this goal.  I’m grateful for that, really.  I’m going to need every year I’ve got left.

“Have the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and creative”

Yup, check.

“Move through our rapidly changing world with courage and a resilient spirit”

Yup, check.   I got this.

Reflections in a puddle

Reflections in a puddle


20 responses to “Being the Adult I Want my Children to Become

  1. Beautiful post Ariane and you are more than half there, which is a lot more than most people. Your search for truth and honesty in this journey is uncovering great things. The fact that you are willing to scrutinize yourself to be a better parent is very indicative of it. Honest conversations with our children do always lead us to better parenting and by default to be a better human being.

  2. As a highly evolved human being and parent, I can understand why you’d want to attain this level of perfection. However, I’m sure our children appreciate how hard you’re trying anyway. There’s enough room on this pedestal for two, should you succeed in your noble quest.

    Alternate Universe Richard

  3. I want my kids to be like you. Honest and fun and creative and generous and affectionate and the opposite of smug. So far, so good.

  4. I completely relate, particularly to the neighbour incident. I constantly rail against letting my own need for approval and acceptance come before my children’s needs. I hate caring what the outside world thinks and work on this all the time. I sometimes laugh at the irony that I was blessed with a child who is so unique and non-conformist!

  5. “The truth is my children are closer to the adult I’d like to be, but am not yet. ”

    Beautiful. I always say, I am not as evolved as any of my kids, but I am working on it. You are such an amazing human and parent!

    Thank you for your wonderful writing.Love to you and your family!

    • Lauri,
      When Richard, Em and I flew home after visiting all of you this spring, we both commented on how wonderful it was to be around another family that we immediately felt completely at home with. Your kids are like mine! They are the adults we aspire to be and how amazing and wonderful is that?!

  6. Reminds me of the quote often attributed to Gandhi (but appears to be in question. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

  7. I guess it’s never too late to at least aspire to become the person, adult and kid that one truly is. 🙂

  8. Hi Ariane,

    As always, I really enjoyed this post – there seems to be a curious parallel between what you write so eloquently about on your blog and the progression I am currently going through in my life, both academically and personally. I am therefore taking advantage of your learning process and hard work to further my own development and reflective practice – thank you! You have helped me in more ways than I can express in a blog comment. Much love to you and your family, and I must say, how fortunate you are to have Richard to show you a good example… 😉

  9. Reading this post I have to ask myself ‘am i the person I want others to be’ if I’m honest the answer to that question is ‘no’ from now onward I’m going to set expectations for others that I myself can meet and understand that we are all trying our bests to be our bests.

  10. Pingback: Day 1037: Being the person you want other people to be

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