Powerful Lessons My Mom Did Not Teach Me

Mama duck

My mom left out a few lessons that a lot of other kids got.  Certain common habits, I just never developed because nobody taught me.

In the last few years I’ve become more and more interested in people, and I pay more attention to passers-by when I’m out and about.  One thing that always enthralls me is seeing children learn from their parents.  A wide-eyed and curious child, watching his mother’s actions and words, is a powerful sight to behold.  It affects me today in ways it never had before.  Now that I’m older and firmly in the habit of examining my habits, I can see how crucial those moments are in shaping a kid’s life.

What the parent does in those moments, in front of her vulnerable, impressionable child, is a far-reaching act of creation.  How she interacts with her own world is probably the greatest factor in determining how that child will deal with his own life when he’s free to make his own decisions.

There are certain common lessons I see a lot of parents giving their kids that I now realize I missed out on.  I suppose in many instances, parents don’t realize they’re even teaching anything at all; they’re just doing their own thing.  But kids are like sponges, relatively free of preconceptions and far more impressionable than adults.  They are rarely preoccupied like we adults usually are, and they’re always watching.

Some kids learn that they should yell and smoke cigarettes when they get upset.  Some learn that their problems are their estranged father’s fault.  Some are learn that their neighbor is a “fucking prick.”  Some are taught that they’re bad people if they don’t go to church.

We don’t choose our parents.  We emerge involuntarily from nonexistence, into a household we didn’t choose, to be cared for by the people who just happen to be there.  Some of us luck out, and some of us get a real bum deal.  Obviously, being born is not a consequence to anything we’ve done, so what our parents end up teaching us about life is just a matter of chance.  Whether one hits the jackpot, or rolls snake-eyes, nobody really deserves the parents they get.

I won.

A few years ago I hit a real rough spot in my life.  I was frustrated and scared and I didn’t know what to do.  My mom had taught me so much, but I was facing a dilemma I’d never faced, and I had to undergo some painful trial and error to find my way out.  Her advice and support really took the edge off much of the time, but I think it was what she didn’t teach me that really saved me from total disaster.

Some people end up learning some pretty self-destructive ways to respond to troubling circumstances.  If I’d been taught to approach life with more impulsive philosophy, I might have self-destructed completely.  I see people teaching their kids these things all the time, and it breaks my heart.

Thank you Mom, for never teaching me:

…to indulge in vices

I’m 28 now, and I’m exiting my “young and stupid” phase.  The older I get, the more I realize how essential alcohol and cigarettes are in the day-to-day lives of so many adults.  For many, they’re the go-to source for entertainment, stress relief, and celebration.  I won’t begrudge anyone that, but I know that if I grew up watching my mom excuse herself for a cigarette after supper all my life, I’d be doing it too.  She always made it clear to me what a reasonable indulgence was, and never took any of them to excess or abuse.

In the apartment across the hallway, maybe three our four evenings a week I hear noisy adults arriving, one by one.  Usually I’m writing quietly at that time, and by nine or ten, they’re howling and swearing and clinking bottles.  Now and then, the party will go conspicuously silent for a moment, and I’ll hear the unmistakable murmur of a parent ushering a small child back to bed.

The idea of my mom mixing herself double whiskeys after work, or eating Doritos front of the TV for hours is absurd to me, but for some kids, it’s life lessons.

…to blame and complain

My mother has always been a woman of action.  That was always her response to adversity: to do something about it, never to resent someone or whine.  I cannot even imagine her holding a grudge or having an enemy.

There are people in my life, past, present, and certainly future, whose initial response to adversity is always to identify who is at fault for it.  They will explain to you exactly how someone else is wrong, and what they should have done instead.  This is normal in our culture.  On the news I often hear, “Today, (enter fiasco here) occurred in Washington.  Who’s to blame?  Who should be fired/charged/impeached/embargoed?  The people want answers.”

It seems like my mom’s concern, instinctively, was always what she should do, not what others should do.

..that I should believe anything without question

I was never prescribed any religious or political beliefs.  I was never dragged to a religious institution, or told who “we” vote for.  There were no “absolute truths” handed to me and my sister to try and make fit into our lives.  We were allowed — and encouraged — to discover the world for ourselves and interpret it on our own.  She didn’t tell us what to believe, ever.

I grew to realize that beliefs are personal, and it makes no sense to adopt a predefined package of them.  You have to feel them out and agree only on your own volition, or you’ll be living a lie.

…that different is bad

I remember one day on the playground in grade one when one kid said, “When men love men, that’s called a faggot.  That’s what my dad said.”  I heard kids parroting similar lessons with other nasty words, and I always wondered why a parent would say those things at all, let alone in front of their kids.  I was spared the curse of being taught that people and ideas I didn’t understand were deserving of my ridicule or disdain.

I had a friend whose mom was nervous about letting him play with too many kids who weren’t Greek.  Another friend’s mom told us we had to leave because we were playing a devil’s game in her basement (it was a board game called HeroQuest.)

…who I’m supposed to be.

Never once has my mother nagged me to become a doctor, find a wife, produce some grandkids, or stop doing anything I love.  Whenever I had an interest, she supported it.  Whenever I quit something that I didn’t think was right for me, she supported that too.

There was no master plan for me to be anything in particular, I know that.  She always put my dreams for me ahead of her dreams for me.  I suppose her dreams for me are my dreams for me.  How respectful.  I have known many people who were never extended that same freedom.

Now I’m not saying my Dad taught me any of these nasty things either, but this Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I know she’s reading.  I also know that there are a few people out there who, this Sunday, will not feel like they have as much to celebrate.

“You don’t need to get me anything for Father’s Day.  Father’s Day was invented by the Hallmark greeting card company.  But Mother’s Day is different.  Never forget Mother’s Day.“  ~ My Dad

R

Photo by reebs

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{ 38 Comments }

Ian | Quantum Learning May 8, 2009 at 2:45 am

David, I firmly believe that to lead a healthy and successful life we need, at the very least, to respect our parents for bringing us into the world and doing the best they could to raise us.

If we happen to get some valuable lessons from them that’s a bonus. And the icing on the cake is when we like and love our parents as human beings.

Sounds to me that you got a cake with some pretty tasty icing on it!

Ian | Quantum Learning’s last blog post..Falling in love does not make you telepathic

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Jay Schryer May 8, 2009 at 3:02 am

Well said, David, well said. Parents, especially mothers, are our first teachers we have in this world, and the most powerful influence on our young lives. It’s so wonderful to hear about parents that truly do their best and honor the gift they’ve been given.

Jay Schryer’s last blog post..Questioning Love and Sex

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Roger - A Content Life May 8, 2009 at 6:55 am

David,

You had a great mom and you are indeed lucky!

It is amazing to watch other parents and I do the same thing as you do — I watch the lessons the parent are unconsciously teaching. Sometimes it’s scary and other times it’s beautiful, but it’s always interesting.

You’re Mom won’t do it so I will – you’re clearly ready to be a father already so get cracking. :)

Your writing always inspires me. Thanks.

Roger – A Content Life’s last blog post..Beware of False Kindness

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Jeffrey | Eating In The Now Teacher May 8, 2009 at 7:05 am

I’m actually on the other end of the spectrum where I learned a whole host of bad habits from my mother. However, I think in some strange way, we actually do choose our parents. My ability to overcome everything I learned from watching my mother shows me that growth is possible.

Let’s face it – if we had perfect parents who didn’t challenge us, we may not have much reason to grow. It ultimately comes down to the individual to decide what to do with what’s happened. There are some who are unconscious and decide to play the victim. Then there are others who use it as fuel for the fire to make positive change in the world.

I’m thankful for what I learned from her – it gave me a good idea of where I want my life to be. Plus, her imperfections have taught me patience, appreciation, and incredible strength. Whereas my friends who have practically perfect parents are afraid to take risks and jump out of their comfort zones.

Thought provoking post! Thanks so much.

Jeffrey | Eating In The Now Teacher’s last blog post..15 Ways To Get The Most Enjoyment From The Food You Eat

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Albert | UrbanMonk.Net May 8, 2009 at 7:05 am

This is a great post David, and your mother sounds like a fantastic person. My mom is lovely too, but unfortunately I picked up snacking from her. And snacking. And snacking. And snacking. And snacking… hahahah!

Albert | UrbanMonk.Net’s last blog post..Realizing We Secretly Want Our Suffering – A Process for Emotional Healing

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Lisis May 8, 2009 at 7:30 am

Beautiful, David… it made me cry. I know you didn’t write it for ME, but I pretended that it was Hunter writing this, since these are the things I try to teach him. So, it was a lovely Mother’s Day gift.

You know, just the other day, we were at the grocery store, and I was feeling irresponsible because we hadn’t done his school lessons that day. But then I realized that, as we walked around the store, I was saying Hi to all the people who worked there, and who I crossed paths with. When someone helped me, I paid close attention, and thanked them sincerely for taking the time. I interacted with each person (strangers all of them) like real human beings. As we left the store I asked him if he remembered a poem we learned in first grade:

Hearts, like doors will open with ease
To very, very little keys
And don’t forget that two of these
Are “Thank you, sir” and “If you please.”

We did do our lessons that day after all because, like you said, kids learn by example. The lesson was Kindness.

=-)

Lisis’s last blog post..Fellowship Fridays: Notice The Little Things

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Lisis May 8, 2009 at 7:56 am

By the way, I love your dad’s quote!

Lisis’s last blog post..Fellowship Fridays: Notice The Little Things

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Rev. T. Monkey (aka JBPM) May 8, 2009 at 9:06 am

Fantastic post, David. It made me realize how much negative stuff I’ve been teaching my own daughter, in spite of my best efforts. It also reminded me, yet again, of how lucky I am to have my parents (who did choose me in a sense — I was adopted as a baby), even though they did teach me to blame and gripe and to believe without question (stuff for me to work with!)

I just wish Mom would stop nagging me about getting my hair cut.

Rev. T. Monkey (aka JBPM)’s last blog post..Cooperation as a factor in evoution

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David May 8, 2009 at 9:12 am

@ Ian — I sure did, Ian. Fantastic father too, I really lucked out.

@ Jay — Well said, Jay. We’re products of our environments.

@ Roger — Haha! Not yet, not yet. But thank you.

@ Jeffrey — Very insightful comment, Jeffrey. I did grow up quite comfort-accustomed and risk-averse, and those are things I’ve had to overcome. But I wasn’t exactly pampered or doted on either. I was lucky and never had to deal with abuse or neglect, and I suppose it left me inexperienced in dealing with certain difficulties in life. I guess it’s a trade-off. I’m glad you were wise enough to make use of everything you learned. Great comment, thanks.

@ Albert — Nothing wrong with snacking here and there. :) I feel like some cashews…

@ Lisis — He’s a very lucky kid.

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Frances May 8, 2009 at 9:51 am

It’s true, people don’t realize how easily their children can pick up their bad habits. Parents are the biggest influence in children’s lives. Luckily I had a mom like yours, except for that part about her not pressuring for marriage and kids. My mom’s definately got the fever.

Frances’s last blog post..Taking Your Own Advice

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David May 8, 2009 at 9:53 am

Hey Reverend. Even now, my mom still reminds me to “stand up straight!” As I’ve said I’m a recovering shy person and I sometimes keep my head lowered out of habit. Some of these things she’s taught me, I’m only fully appreciating now. I do better at not letting my haircut schedule lapse, that’s another one.

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David May 8, 2009 at 10:06 am

Hey Frances, good to hear from you!

Yeah, I know the drive for mothers to want to see weddings and grandkids is a strong one. I’m glad my mom has never been pushy about it, but I know that’s something every mother wants. My sister is due in September so that will keep the attention off me for a bit.

Good to see Strong Tea active again. Looks great.

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jeff May 8, 2009 at 10:33 am

Thankyou David. Great post as usual.

For those who come from a different part of the experiential spectrum these are very helpful books

‘Legacy of the Heart(The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood)’ by Wayne Muller

and

‘The Resilient Spirit’ by Polly Young Eisendrath

There is an interest now among psychologists in what is called ‘resilience’. Why do some children survive and even benefit from adversity while others are crushed by it? One suggestion is that some children are able to find meaning in what is happening to them which makes bad experiences bearable. A similar process can happen with resilient adults.

Also of interest is James Hillman’s book, The Soul’s Code which argues for an innate character, daimon or ‘genius’ (the essential ‘you’) which emerges irrespective of upbringing. We appear in life from some mysterious place with our ‘soul’ (for want of a better word) already carrying the seed of itself. WE are ‘other’ from the beginning. Maybe this is Zen’s ‘Original face before you were born’?

In my Quaker Meeting we have had a series of presentations called ‘How I came to be me’. All very interesting, some very moving, and I have learned a lot. I have not volunteered because I haven’t the remotest idea of how I came to be me. I was aware from my earliest years who I was and that essential me remains the same. In some ways I am who I am in spite of my upbringing rather than because of it.

Maybe my talk, if I came to volunteer, might be,

Who am I?
Where did I come from?
Why am I here?’

‘Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness…’

(Wordsworth)

Of course I maybe just an old Romantic!

jeff’s last blog post..Presence

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Hi David,

It is so true that as children we learn things by watching our parents. As I go through time, I see more and more how certain habits and beliefs I picked up from my parents.

I, too, was raised in a very open and tolerant house. My dad never tolerated any kind of negative “ism”. I never understood the power of being raised so open-minded until I started to realize that not everyone is so tolerant.

I am happy that your parents were such loving, compassionate and tolerant people. As the Buddhists would say, you have good karma! ;)

Nadia – Happy Lotus’s last blog post..To All The Wonder Women In The World

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Mom May 8, 2009 at 12:23 pm

What a wonderful Mothers’ day gift. Thank you David.

Being a mother has been and will always be my greatest joy, well at least until I get a chance to experience being a grandmother.

It is interesting that this post is about the lessons that I did not teach you, because that is really how I have approached parenting. During my university days when I worked evenings and weekends as a cashier, I entertained myself by observing people. That was where I learned how not to parent. I saw parents who were distracted, disrespectful, angry, and those who were just plain mean. At the other end of the spectrum, I saw parents who were overprotective and overindulgent. I saw children who were overtired or sick and should have been home in bed instead of in a shopping cart. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Being a mother can be challenging and there were often times when I did not know what to do. But, I always knew what not to do.

I have tried to be like the mother duck, giving you my love, my attention and my support, but knowing that you would learn to fly on your own. And you have.

Love always,
Mom

And to David’s blogger friends,

For me, one of the great things about being a mom is getting to know the friends of my kids. I feel like I know many of you. I read all of your comments and many of your blog posts. I enjoy them, and I learn from you.
I’m glad my son keeps such good company.

Isabel

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Tim May 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm

David:

Great tribute to your mom. I am lucky too, to have been raised by a supportive mom. My parents got divorced when I was 7 and my mom raised me as a single mom making very little money. Somehow, she sent me to Catholic School and on weekends I would bug her to take me to Cub games since Wrigley Field was a busride away. So we went just about every weekend they were in town – games were about $5 or $10 in those days — and no I am not “that” old. My mother is still alive, though going through some major health struggles. But I will always remember the sacrifices she made and the fact that, even though we didn’t have much money, I had a lot of fun and great memories.

Tim’s last blog post..Stop and Smell the Roses (or Tulips)

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David May 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Oh wow, Mom, thank you. My biggest fan leaves her first comment!

As I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize how extraordinarily lucky Alison and I are. When you’re a kid, you never really look at your parents objectively as just people, figuring out life like anyone else. Looking up at them like kids do, parents seem like they’ve got everything figured out, that they’ve ‘solved’ life and always know what to do.

Now that I’m an adult, and I’ve known a lot more people, I can see that you and Dad were exceptionally level-headed parents, and not just ‘normal.’

I know we were blessed with great genes, but the ‘nurture’ part of the equation was absolutely world-class too. It’s taken me a while to hit my stride, but the foundations were always there.

Thank you so much, there’s no better gift a person can give to the world than good parenting. I love you.

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Positively Present May 8, 2009 at 2:03 pm

I love the way you wrote this post. The way it was written I kept reading and finding new and interesting nuggets of information here. Amidst all of the mother’s day posts going up on blogs, I found a true gem here. This one is great. You mother didn’t teach you some great things! :)

PS – I LOVE the picture. I just took some similar pictures of little baby ducks near where I work. They are SO adorable!!!

Positively Present’s last blog post..funny the way it is

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Josh Hanagarne May 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm

I loved this post. There’s a big difference between having a child and being a mother. You’ve definitely got a mother.

As a new father, I’m constantly in awe of my wife. She’s just “better” at certain things than I am. I hope it doesn’t sound sexist, but her interactions with our son Max are so tender and natural and intuitive that sometimes I feel like a bit of an outsider. I’m not complaining. Just glad that he has her.

I think our mom’s would get along great. When my health was at its very worst, I remember my mom crying and crying. I asked her why she didn’t just go somewhere where she didn’t have to confront it all, even if it was just to the other room.

“It’s harder to be away from you than to be with you even when it’s like this,” she said. I have never forgotten that. Mothers affect us all in ways we never even notice. I owe my mother far more than I realize.

Thanks for writing this.

Josh Hanagarne’s last blog post..Profile: Strongman Adam T. Glass

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David May 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm

@ Josh — I owe my mother far more than I realize too. I can never pay back what she’s done for me; I can only pay it forward, when I have kids.

@ Dani — Thanks, Dani. Look at the little duck in the middle, leaping past the others.

@ Tim — Cheers Tim, to good moms.

@ Nadia — I’m glad you had the parents you had, because you ended up awesome.

@ Jeff — It wasn’t until I began consciously “learning how I came to be me” that life started to turn around for me. I had to know my habits and inclinations and where they come from. Great questions to ask, thank you.

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Sherri (Serene Journey) May 8, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Hi David,

I read your post early this morning and it’s stuck with me all day. It really is a lovely tribute to your mom, a mom you’re very lucky to have. It’s obvious from your post and your mom’s comment that there is a lot of love and respect between the two of you and that’s truly lovely.

My mom is awesome as well so I can relate in that way. She’s always there for us, she’s supportive and encouraging. Even at 32 I’m still her baby :) I love my mom for all she’s done for me and my sisters but what I love now is seeing her as a grannie to my kids, she’s even more awesome!

Isabel,
Hi! :) I love the story of when you worked as a cashier and learning how not to parent. I find myself learning a lot about how and how not to parent by watching others as well. Like you say I know what NOT to do it’s figuring out what TO do that’s the tricky bit (it’s frustrating at times that there’s no manual for this. :) You’ve obviously done a lot of things right as a mom to get such a lovely and well deserved tribute like this.

Have a very happy mother’s day this Sunday! :)
Sherri

Sherri (Serene Journey)’s last blog post..How To Make Friends You Enjoy Being Around

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Spencer May 9, 2009 at 9:18 am

You have written such a kind touching article about a super hero in your life, your mother.

I agree, parent can really mess up kids. Those mongrels grow up to be little parrot microcosms of what they witnessed in their homes. Those of us who were witness to stupidity, racism, and just plain meanness will always have to be conscious of our actions. That is why self-help books are so popular in my opinion.

Sounds like you are well ground in life as a result of your mother and her unselfish ways. Bless her.

Spencer’s last blog post..Patience Young Grass Hopper

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Lori May 9, 2009 at 9:44 pm

This comment is for Isabel: You inspire me :) I hope some day when I have children to teach them (and not teach them) all these valuable lessons, both in my words and actions. Happy Mother’s Day!

OK, and something for David…”What the parent does in those moments, in front of her vulnerable, impressionable child, is a far-reaching act of creation. How she interacts with her own world is probably the greatest factor in determining how that child will deal with his own life when he’s free to make his own decisions.” <–I love this. I always thought I would have kids by now (I’ll be 30 in a few months!) But I am glad my life hasn’t unfolded that way because I haven’t always interacted with my own world well. I get better at it every day, and I finally feel capable of showing someone how to be a good, open-minded, balanced person.

PS Can I print this and present it to MY mom as my own so she can hang it on her fridge? Kidding :)

Lori

Lori’s last blog post..Why Is Aging Seen as So Negative?

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David May 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm

@ Sherri — It feels good to hear someone say my post stuck with them all day. I’m glad it resonated with you, that means a lot to me. And Happy Mother’s Day!

@ Spencer — Thanks Spencer. I was blessed, no question.

@ Lori

I always thought I would have kids by now (I’ll be 30 in a few months!) But I am glad my life hasn’t unfolded that way because I haven’t always interacted with my own world well. I get better at it every day, and I finally feel capable of showing someone how to be a good, open-minded, balanced person.

Heh… sounds like me. I finally feel like I’ve ‘arrived’ somewhere, in terms of balance. I think I interact with my world fairly healthfully now, but I’ve still got a ways to go in a lot of areas. Blogging is proving to be a huge source of growth for me, even though it’s only been two months.

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Stephen - Rat Race Trap May 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm

David, this was a really good article. I believe the best way to raise children is to be an example to them. You can’t preach or force them into right thinking or behavior. You have to show them what right thinking and behavior mean. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom.

Stephen – Rat Race Trap’s last blog post..The Past, The Present, and The Future

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Evelyn Lim May 13, 2009 at 6:12 am

Your mother sounds awesome! It’s great that you paid her a tribute and how lovely of her to write a comment to this post.

As a mother myself, I also learn a lot by observing what I do not wish on my kids. It’s not easy to take a different approach to parenting when I am surrounded by parents who prefer to “push” their kids to excel. I would like my kids to lead a balanced lifestyle, have enough playtime and not just focus on studies.

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David May 13, 2009 at 6:46 am

@ Stephen — You’re right. “Do as I say and not as I do” has never worked. It was not so much what my parents said to me that guided my behavior, it was what they did. Just like the old writing adage: “Show, don’t tell.”

@ Evelyn — My mom is awesome! Play is so important, both my parents were always big advocates of play. Sometimes they would get on my case for not playing enough. And happy belated Mother’s Day!

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suzen May 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

Just getting to “know you” here and I have to say you passed “young and stupid” with flying colors. If you were MY son, I’d be more choked up than I am right now! You “done your mom proud” I’d say! My son is just a few yrs younger than you – if he said what you just did, I’d be hysterically happy!

suzen’s last blog post..Calling All GENEROUS Spirits

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David May 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

Thanks suzen, I was not always such a respectful son. A few years ago things were pretty rough for me and I sometimes took it out on the people who helped me most. I’m still young, a little bit less stupid though.

David’s last blog post..Good Morning

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Kim June 2, 2009 at 1:53 am

What a true post. Thank you. Parenting is an amazing responsibility that means that you can make or break some-one elses life. It is enough to make me seriously consider whether or not I actually want kids and who I want to bring them up with (a good job it is only me or else earth would be an empty place and I wouldn’t be here).

Kim’s last blog post..You’ve been Facebooked

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Ruby January 9, 2011 at 3:45 am

I had a good mother who taught me well; stating that she was having babies so fast, she might not raise them all. She took out the time to talk to me about all area of life; from childbirth to menapause. And though she is dead today, I yet, when troubles arise, always consider what my mother would say. Her teachings are deep down inside me, of which I taught my daughter, who says she has a good mother who taught her well, but why does she not teach her own 4 children anything. They lie, steal, and cheat and laugh about it. She says she would rather pray for them that they do right, than take out time to talk to them.

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Tobi July 30, 2011 at 7:39 am

I won too, I was never taught most of those horrible things but one I must have been taught is the complain and blame one. I do that all the time, I don’t know of they do but they must have because I do it! Oh well, no one is perfect. Not to much harm done.

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Gita Madhu November 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

You’re about the same age as my son. My father, to whom one of my blogs is devoted, had often told me to look at my son and learn. He passed away when my son was very small.
I had to flinch while reading your blog entry. I have not been an ideal mom but I could also feel touched as some of the things I have passed on to my son are serving to make him a beautiful human being and you have, indeed, mentioned those too.
At this age, it would be very easy for me to become didactic towards young parents or parents to be but the best way is example and love.
I hope many young parents and parent’s to be read this entry

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soukaina November 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

you are so lucky to have such a wonderful mother. mothers in all over the world are the same so their feeling and love towards their kids, we can never pay back what they done for us.

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George Waters June 20, 2012 at 12:32 am

Being a parent is all about providing the loving environment and greatest opportunity for your kids in every aspect of their life and development.

Children need:
• Children need to learn independence of goals, values, and habits. This is the major role of parents. They can do this by providing opportunity. …
They must believe in their own goals, values, and habits. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It must not be forced upon them, you must let them see for themself how amazing something is.
• Love
A very important aspect of a child’s growing up is social contact. They will need regular social contact with friends and family as this is where children learn language, and establish connections and relationships with others.
Importance of family.
The children do everything the parents do. Parents read at night, kids read at night.
• Learning:
The greatest learning occurs through leisure. Children learn by example. Children need to taught how to concentrate.
Develop strength in all aspects of intelligence.
Knowledge about: the world, life, being social,
Difference between right and wrong.
Language (English), Italian.
Skills (sports, musical instruments, board games…)

Ask yourself what you would like if you were their age. Remember what it was like for yourself at their age. See the world through their eyes. Work out what makes them tick, what motivates them.
Parents need to have extensive life experience before having children.
A broadened perspective is important for children.
Most values are subconscious, however, nobody can fulfill them all each day without them written down to refer to every day.
Every person thinking of having children in the future is not just living for themself but living for their future children. Thus every single thought and action regarding their own goals, values and habits will affect their future children.

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Hannah December 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

David, thank you so much for sharing this post! (I know, it was a while back. I’m steadily making my way through your archives.)

I notice that I am immediately weary of any posts that express gratitude or appreciation toward mothers, because I often feel like I was dealt “snake eyes” in that regard. However, after reading this I have a new perspective! I don’t have much of a relationship with my mother, but she could have imparted much worse than she did. She taught me a few key valuable lessons that I still hold close to my heart, even if she didn’t necessarily demonstrate those lessons herself.

Our parents do the best they can with the resources they have. It helps to remember that they’re human, and not everyone is capable of examining their lives with strong and discerning lenses. It’s hard work — acknowledging truth. It leaves us in that uncomfortable open space of choice: step into the discomfort and pursue growth, or fall back into familiar, “comfortable,” but ultimately disintegrative.

P.S. something I am working on is letting go of perfectionism, so I’m going to try to ignore the voice that tells me all my commentary and feedback is useless (not good *enough*). I always have so many thoughts on your posts — I’ll try to share more without judging them :)

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David December 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Take it from me, an outside observer: your feedback is good! I appreciate your thoughts here and I hope to see more from you in the comment sections.

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Mark March 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm

“Obviously, being born is not a consequence to anything we’ve done, so what our parents end up teaching us about life is just a matter of chance. Whether one hits the jackpot, or rolls snake-eyes, nobody really deserves the parents they get.”

Those who believe in reincarnation would say you get the life you earned in the last one. In vedanta, there is the idea that the universe is just and that all that happens is compulsory. The only thing you have any volition over is how you think. Your opinions of what happens are the karmic seeds of future fruits of cause and effect. Of course no one “proves” this empirically, it’s a way to view the world that helps make sense of suffering.

From reading your posts on headlessness I am sure you are aware of the idea that who we truly are is not our bodies, but that we emanate from a void into the manifest world. Since our true self is unmanifest, the only “action” it can perform is where its attention goes. This perspective doesn’t “work” for everybody, but that’s why it’s a perspective.

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