After my talk on using parenting for your own individual growth this weekend someone asked this question:
“What is the role of the parent / hero in the world of the child?”
Don’t you love it when you’re dealing with something and suddenly you find the topic seems to crop up everywhere? Because as you know, I just asked in my last post if, as a psychologist, I’m allowed to admit to being a normal flawed human or if I must maintain a façade of perfection. I decided to just be flawed and see what happens. So far the results are good. But what about having someone to look up to?
It helps us in life, especially when we’re children – or regressed to child state – if we have someone to encourage us and show us the way. If I think of heroes I think Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu…activists, artists, people I admire who have used their lives to serve humanity. I find them inspiring on a grand scale – but also intimidating. The standards are high. I mean I don’t know that I want to face dire poverty, prison sentence, police brutality and oppression in order to inspire my kids…
So I need other heroes, maybe I’ll pop over to the store where they stock the Everyday Heroes. Every day I see people around me who have to live with illness or loss and they do so with grace, people who face grinding poverty and still get on with their lives and live in integrity, people who confess to misdeeds and show up for the consequences of what they did, people who have been hurt but open their hearts again anyway, single parents who are there for their children, parents with three, four, five kids who find joy in each child. THOSE are the people who make me really feel things are possible, that I can get through my difficult moments.
My Ghandi-type heroes inspire me to live my life big and in service and I’m grateful for them, but they feel far away. It’s my daily heroes who get me through my tough days – precisely because I can see they are also just human and messing up at times just like me. That’s what gives me hope. Someone said to me today, “If you can see that successful people also have the same insecurities as you but that they still go out there and achieve, it gives you hope that you can do it too.”
So does my child (or my client) need me to be a huge hero – someone daunting who always gets it right, always knows what to do and is always competent? That’s inspiring, sure, but also a bit intimidating and out of reach. Isn’t it more useful to a child if their parent / hero can accept their humanness, keep striving to overcome their wounds and still go out there and achieve and succeed?
Mine is a hero that can say, “I’m so sorry I did that. I’m also learning and doing my best. I didn’t do that one very well at all and I’m so sorry I hurt you. I will do what I need to make it right with you and I’ll always keep trying – for myself and for you.”
What does your hero do?