Remember when mom took care of the house and dad went off to work? If you were like me, that was the context in which growing up occurred. My mom was amazing. She baked fresh bread every week and for dinner we always had a homemade dessert. She kept her house clean and her children safe and held her marriage together with patience, persistence, tolerance and love. Dad was amazing too. Every day he would go to work long hours in his construction trade and was home to eat dinner with the family. On weekends he would take us fishing or hiking or we would build things in his workshop.
Mom wasn’t the Mrs. Cleaver of homemaking though. She was a strong willed, outspoken lady (still is) who did what she wanted, bought what she wanted and cursed every now and again (though only when she thought us kids were out of earshot). Dad went on his hunting and fishing trips without the family; he was not into sharing his feelings, and he was known to have a few drinks now and again.
When I was kid and the youngest of five children, I knew that my parents had it figured out (except, of course, when I was in my teen years, when I was pretty clear they knew nothing). Sure, there was trial and tribulation, they argued, they made mistakes but they provided for us, nurtured us, helped us learn, comforted us and made our home a safe and happy place. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel my parent’s love for me.
As I got older, I realized that my situation wasn’t necessarily common – not all my friends had the luxury of parents who were still married. I also realize that there is little reality in the whole concept of“Doing it Right”. As a parent I have conversations with Mom and Dad about doing our best to raise our children (they are still doing it). They admit that they are guessing and exploring, much like I do as a mother of three, on a daily basis, hoping that it in the end, all will turn out well.And it has. Here I am, the youngest of five children with children of my own.
So what did Mom and Dad do? What made it work? How can I be a great parent? What can we as parents do so that our children, years from now, speak of us with the reverence that I speak of my own parents?
To pinpoint one thing that Mom and Dad “Did the Right Way”, it is the love they create in their home. And again, I am not talking about Leave – it – to – Beaver – Cookie – Cutter – Perfect love. When they argued you could hear them clear across the neighbourhood and sometimes there was dinner thrown across the kitchen and bottles smashed. We shed tears, but we always knew there was love. Mom and Dad loved each other. Growing up I witnessed their relationship evolve and grow and mature and endure. This gave me a model of what a relationship can be and set the standard for my own relationships. Even when they didn’t like each other, they loved each other. And that made them successful parents. They worked together as a team. They are still doing it.
Working together is such a simple and brilliant concept – one that is often forgotten in the day to day of parenthood. What can parents do to work together to cope with changes and challenges? We can work together. Avoid isolating yourself as a parent and our children will know that they are not alone. Working together, creating teams and support structures, asking for help and sharing will have us succeed as parents.
Tania Burgi is the mother of three and a visionary. She is the co-founder of Different and a professional performance coach.