New Territory: On Humility in Parenting

As a parent, I don’t think that the basic act of procreating is an accomplishment. As long as your reproductive system is in order, having a child is an easy process. The act of raising that child to be a well-balanced, creative, emotionally healthy, confident, and successful adult is another matter.

Before my daughter was even conceived, I had a path charted for her in my head. And from the time she was born I’ve constantly asked myself this question: what’s the best way to make that vision a reality?

As my daughter moved from middle childhood to adolescence, I soon discovered that the landscape was changing. To navigate this new territory, I had to take on a trait that was alien to my cultural views of parenting: humility.

As a parent, it’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that you know it all. That’s how many of our own parents raised us. The biological connection or age difference meant that parental figures were to be accorded an almost divine status by their children. The words, opinion, and outlook of parents are to be beyond reproach.

The reality is this: parents can have flaws. We can also be ignorant. Though I always expect my unique position and role as a mother to be recognized, I also understand that there is much about psychology and child development that I simply don’t know.

Aware of this ignorance, I’ve come to see that parenting is a topic I must seek out information and resources for. I don’t judge the generations that came before me too harshly for their child rearing, for the vast knowledge that we now have simply wasn’t available for them. But since I am fortunate to live in the Information Age, I have chosen to take advantage of it. I listen to podcasts and TED Talks that challenge my methods. I attend parent education seminars that analyze teen behavior from a biological perspective. In utilizing such tools, I’ve learned how to diminish my ego and become a better parent. This allows me to nurture my relationship with my child and create greater harmony in my home.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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