Always be nice to a parent.
Of course, we do already empathise with other parents — but perhaps we mainly do this when talking about parenting.
At other times, even though it’s not as though we ‘forget’ that they are a parent too, we revert to taking them as face value of the individual they are.
But we know that when you are a parent, you are no longer an individual at all. There’s always so much going on underneath the surface.
And kids always seem to know when to worry you the most!
It’s when you have the important business meeting or you have to be in ten places at once, or it’s the last day you have to renew your visa — and that’s when something extra comes up.
A couple of weeks ago, my Son did just that. I had 10,000 things to manage and then out of nowhere he had some weird illness ‘thing’ that was new to us.
When you think your child is sick, even for a day, all higher brain functioning cuts out.
You can’t think about anything else. Internet research on sickness (meaningless and counter-productive) and worries take over.
Sometimes it isn’t only that we fail to empathise with other parents — it can be that we fail to realise quite the impact that parenting worries have on ourselves.
It’s normal human psychology. If we all understood everything about ourselves then we’d have no problems.
But the reality is that we can still go around acting and thinking in the present, while the worries are still bubbling away stronger than we think.
Maybe your child is going on a school trip, for example, and it’s on your mind with full parenting paranoia. The tension that this can cause is considerable and shouldn’t be under-estimated.
In my case, my Son had his first day at kindergarten. Even though I went through it with my daughter years ago, I will openly say that it filled me with a sense of impending dread.
Life is fine, work is going well, my wife is still hot — yet very silently I had a nagging concern and felt tense. I found that I was nervous in situations where I was usually confident.
Yes — as I know you can empathise with — his upcoming happy fun and playing in kindergarten had basically incapacitated me with fear and paranoia.
Because I wouldn’t be there to protect him.
Protect him from what? Fun and playing? This is the insanity that parents must live with.
So, to believe that we can have these worries cleanly compartmentalised in our brains and then go about our other ‘individual’ behaviour with full normality is a joke.
The greatest mental power that anyone can have is to ‘know thyself’.
So we should try to understand the impact that these parenting concerns have on the other aspects of our life — as well as realising that every other good parent is going through just the same thing, whether they realise it or not.
So just do them a favour. Always be nice to a parent. They may be going through more than you — or they — are aware of.
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