Lead With Love

I took this picture this morning. Both of these boys had been put to sleep in their own beds. And both had found their way into ours during the wee hours.

I am a firm believer in discipline, boundaries, routines, and structure. We, as human beings, need it. We actually crave it. Kids especially will practically do anything in their power to secure it. And have you ever seen children without it in their lives? Worse yet- have you seen the kind of adults they become?

I also believe in love and empathy. I believe that it is my job to listen and respond. And I believe that I have a calling to make my children feel safe and seen. Have you seen the children without that in their lives? Worse yet- have you seen the future damage created when that is lacking?

There is certainly an abundance of parent shaming. There is also an abundance of unsolicited advice. Share that your child crawls into your bed and watch the “tips and tricks” pour in… or the judgmental comments roll by…

Often, social media is blamed for this. I can’t say for certain if it has exacerbated these issues as I have obviously only ever been a parent in this age. I don’t know what it was like to raise a child before screen scrolling.

But I do know that we love to blame social media for our humanity. Social media is not above and beyond us. It is us. It puts a spotlight on our human condition. But it is only showing who we are, how we think, what we judge, what we value, who we envy, and who we overlook. So I will not blame it for the way we choose to treat one another. Long before digital likes and comments, there were sideways glances and passive aggressive interaction. The only real difference I see is that prior to this time of posting a picture that could allow you to secretly judge or jump to a conclusion without a conversation… you wouldn’t have actually known the details of how our children are raised. Unless of course, you asked. Which would require a face-to-face boldness.

The thing is (barring abusive parents obviously) most parents are putting forth an intensive effort to raise kind, good, and successful human beings (whatever your definition of success). And we are certainly living in a world with no shortage of lists, articles, books, and gurus telling us how to do it best.

But let’s remember that in a world full of parenting how-to books and “experts” around every corner, at the heart of this should be…the heart. Parenting should be led with love and an instinctive knowledge of our child. No book or so-called expert can tell me when to hold my child close and when to listen to their deepest needs. Parenting with love goes far beyond the “supposed to’s”… It is a supremely human act. And I truly believe that to raise a compassionate, insightful, respectful, and loving human; you must first…be one.