knowing what’s “best”

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

Since the beginning of this year, Eric & I have been having conversations about what kind of parents we want to be, and what we can do in the present to live into those desired ways of being.

No, I’m not pregnant!!!!

We started having those chats because we recognize that there are some ways of being that we can start enacting now, to be more practiced at them by the time we do have kids! We read Raising the Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and loved it. It had an incredible mix of anecdotes, neuroscience, and actionable ways to raise kids with an integrated brain – meaning, integrating both the left and right hemispheres. Super neat.

We’ve heard it a hundred times: “you can’t REALLY prepare for kids”,”you’ll never know what it’s like to be a parent until you BECOME one”,”you can’t predict how your kids are going to turn out”,”you won’t know how different it’s going to be until it happens.”

Here’s the thing…I believe those statements. Seriously, I do. And I also firmly believe that there’s a lot of cool stuff that we can do, both as individuals and as a couple, before we have kids, to be better equipped to handle whatever comes our way, whenever we do decide to grow our family. Instead of focusing on the limits of what we won’t know until we have kids, we’re focusing on the possibilities and creating as much as we can with what we know now! It’s all very exciting. 😀

Last night, I finished re-reading Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture and was incredibly moved…tears were streaming down my face as I read the last pages of the book. If you haven’t read his book and/or seen his last lecture, please read/watch it. He’s amazing.

lastlecture[A VERY brief summary of the book/lecture is: Randy was a husband, father, and lecturer who was dying of pancreatic cancer, so he gave his last lecture to share with his world and THE world what he’d learned in his lifetime, through sharing stories, insights, and advice.]

What he wrote in his chapter called Dreams for My Children really resonated with me, so I’m sharing it with you. I absolutely love his perspective, and E & I are very committed to being parents with an intention like his:

“Because I’ve been so vocal about the power of childhood dreams, some people have been asking lately about the dreams I have for my children.

I have a direct answer for that.

It can be a very disruptive thing for parents to have specific dreams for their kids. As a professor, I’ve seen many unhappy college freshman picking majors that are all wrong for them. Their parents have put them on a train, and too often, judging by the crying during my office hours, the result is a train wreck.

As I see it, a parent’s job is to encourage kids to develop a joy for life and a great urge to follow their own dreams. The best we can do is to help them develop a personal set of tools for the task.

So my dreams for my kids are very exact: I want them to find their own path to fulfillment. And given that I won’t be there, I want to make this clear: Kids, don’t try to figure out what I wanted you to become. I want you to become what you want to become.”

Sigh…I love it!!! So loving, supportive, and totally focused on the kids.

After reading that section of the book, I felt inspired to expand his thoughts to be person-relevant (not just parent-relevant), and came up with these questions for you:

What is your deepest intention in your interactions with people?

Have you ever thought you knew what was “best” for someone? How did you define “best? Did your definition allow space for choices you hadn’t thought of?

How often do you put your own limited pool of experiences onto other people and expect them to adhere to your advice – only to judge them when they make choices that don’t align with the choices you would’ve made?

In mulling over my answers to these questions, I’ve noticed my deepest intention in giving people advice is still sometimes: be right. I think of my opinion/advice as being right/good, and think that if they don’t take it, they’re making a wrong/bad choice.

Thankfully, I don’t think about the world nearly as black-and-white-ly as I used to, and I really have made great progress in staying open to people’s choices and supporting them no matter what. Still, though, I have moments where my old righteousness creeps in and attempts to sabotage my new openness & acceptance. I’m grateful to be reminded of this so I can continue to be mindful of it and shift off of that old behavior/way of thinking!

Very interesting stuff here…I hope you’re inspired to consider your answers to the questions above, and please share your responses in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.

xx Nicole


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