12/06/2013 06:11 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2014

Learning From Our Children

Written by Rosemary Strembicki

How do we become parents? Oh sure, there are the biological factors but what about the psychological factors? How many of us have really thought about why we became parents, what our expectations were and how we're meeting those expectations? Most of us have gotten to a point in our children's lives when we ask ourselves, "How did this happen? What am I doing wrong?"

As parents it is, undeniably, our responsibility to guide, nurture and protect our children. But there are so many uncontrollable influences that we often lose sight of the hopes and dreams that we had for that newborn that we first held in our arms.

The first time our 2-year-old says "No!" and runs in the opposite direction can bring on the dreaded feeling of, "What did I get myself into?" And by the time they're teens sometimes we feel like we'd just like to send them back where they came from. We all, at one time or another, feel like we're in it way over our heads. And we sometimes are.

What if we just listen, watch and question what is happening? What is our infant learning by being so demanding, what is our toddler trying to figure out by ignoring what we say and what lessons are there in our teen pushing the limits? There's a lot we can learn, about our children, and ourselves by reflecting after the crisis has passed.

I had the advantage of studying child development before I became a parent. But after raising two children I've learned how to be flexible, how to let go and how to be humble. Lessons that were hard for me. And, as a grandparent, I'm learning that there's still a lot left undone, like how important questioning, learning and exploring are in finding the answers. The answers seem to change with the circumstances and the personalities involved and what might be right for one child is not, necessarily, right for another. But if I spend some time reflecting, exploring my own feelings, getting to know each child and questioning my expectations I can usually find some level of success.

I keep finding myself on the old learning curve: not knowing what I don't know, knowing what I don't know, knowing what I know and finally, not knowing what I know. It seems to be an endless cycle that keeps me engaged and sometimes frustrated with the world around me.

It can be very comfortable not knowing what I don't know but when I'm faced with a question or new way of seeing something I get those old scary feelings again of being in over my head. But if I question and explore I can learn more about what I don't know and once I've practiced and integrated it I rarely remember that I never knew it.

Being a parent can be the greatest opportunity for growth. Our children can show us a world we never imagined. The struggle to do our best when the stakes are so high offers us a chance to be introspective and explore ideas we might not have ever considered.

I encourage you to question, learn, explore and integrate everything our children are trying to teach us. And in the process of becoming more self-aware we will become better parents and grandparents.

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