Wisdom and compassion are not given to us, they can only be discovered through experience -- if we are open to letting go of what we know, or believe we know. SAJ
Motherhood is a clear path to compassion and I imagine fatherhood is no different. Setting limits and saying "no" to our children is compassionate -- it helps them organize and manage the world and motherhood provides many opportunities to say "no."
In our home, we have said "no" to the seventh pet, "yes" to a bit of freedom, ditched the Xbox and made sure they tend to their school work and provide them with care. We have done what every parent is supposed to do -- open doors for their children, allowing them to discover themselves and the world in which they live. We've also provided them with the opportunity to participate in their community, to find self-worth in the benefiting of others.
Setting limits help children feel secure in a big world they can't control. Setting boundaries and expectations -- letting children know what's ahead and how they should deal with it -- builds confidence, and confidence is a beautiful thing in a child. A confident child isn't jealous or insecure, takes calculated risks and has the courage to celebrate both the blunders and successes that enviably come. A confident child can think outside themselves, to the welfare of others. How do we build our children's confidence in a world of negative messaging? How do we as parents remain consistent and strong while navigating this interconnected world?
If one takes a moment in reflection, it is easy to see the most challenging and difficult aspect of parenting is consistency. Consistency enhances every child's experience, sets clear expectations and fosters mutual respect, yet it is my greatest challenge. In our ever-changing, fast-paced digital world, it is very difficult to shield your children from unwanted images and opinions and equally difficult to remain constant. How do we manage?
My personal attempt to embrace my difficulty with consistency is a fluid approach... Okay, I made up the rules as I went along, falling back on my values to help guide me, to find strength when exhausted. I relied upon my moral compass -- no cheating on school work (or anything else for that matter), no lying, no stealing and please, please respect your body and that of others. So far, no major infraction of mama's rules (that I know of).
The boys are now 22, 21 and 15 followed by the empress, Ms. Bieber, 13. Each unique, they for the most part are confident and fully aware how loved they are although there have been times where I have lost my composure. Children can push you to your limit!
Constant reminders that they are responsible for their own well-being as well as that of their family members, home and community are most likely beginning to sound like a broken record. But I am hopeful, as they continue on their personal quest to find fulfillment and happiness, that the kind acts of others (including those by their parents) remind them that they too can participate in community and leave a lasting impact on one, or many.
It all counts.
Stephanie Jelley is co-founder and chief executive officer of umojawa, a crowdfunding platform supporting educational and not-for-profit organizations serving youth and their communities. Using new age digital media and innovative social media strategies, umojawa's crowdfunding platform helps educators, parent teacher volunteers, and organizations to effectively promote their initiatives.
Stephanie's path leading to umojawa, both professionally and personally, served as the perfect preparation for what would become umojawa, a "hybrid community for social change". She has developed and delivered programs to help promote mindfulness and social-emotional learning in projects for teens, educators and parents, with a particular focus on those in at-risk circumstances.
Through "The Center", she co-facilitated the installation of Mindfulness Without Borders Mindfulness Ambassador Council for Essex County, New Jersey at Rutgers University's Institute for International Peace. She has presented "An Alternative to the Habitual Thinking: Changing the Inner Dialogue" at Central Connecticut University with Dr. Daniel Barbazat, Professor of Economics at Amherst College and Executive Director of the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society.
Stephanie is married and mother to three boys and one empress living outside New York City. To keep up with Stephanie's many characters (140 to be exact), follow her on Twitter @stephaniejelley @umojawa