Everyone has their own path in life. Sometimes that path is messy. Sometimes we look at our path and can do nothing but laugh at the absurdity of where we have come from, where we are standing and where we wish to go. So much of a child’s path is carved out by choices that we make as parents. This fact can be both empowering and terrifying. How do we know what path our child belongs to any more than we knew what their name “should be” before they were born? All of these decisions are ones made from love, care, compassion and a desire for our children to be happy. In the end does it really matter if you name your son Joe or Dale? Will his life be drastically different one way or the other? How do we know and how do we ensure that we are finding the “right” path for our child?
In grade school and all the way up through my early professional career I always heard people say “there are no stupid questions”. While I no longer hear this phrase I think it is as important if not more so in parenthood than in an academic and professional atmosphere. When we question our own intent as parents, guardians or role models we are keeping ourselves in check and ensuring that the decisions we make are purposeful. We, as parents, are going to make bad decisions, that is the third guarantee in life, right behind death and taxes. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. It simply does not exist. There are good parents, detail oriented parents, overachieving parents, bad parents, absent parents, abusive parents, absurd parents but no perfect parents. To be perfect is a flaw in itself because if you are perfect in your own eyes that means you are not questioning your actions enough to make mistakes. Without mistakes how will you learn? If you are not learning how can you be perfect? Perfection is not static, it changes with time and therefore you must change with time. Rather than striving to be carving out the perfect path for you or your children I urge you to make compassionate, purposeful decisions about how and why you parent. Always remembering that your child’s path is their own and regardless of the decisions you make they too will end up laughing at the absurdity of moments along their own path. I know that Emerson says “life is a journey, not a destination” but I think focusing on the destination allows you to enjoy the journey knowing that there will be hardships along the way. So rather than trying to carve the perfect path, imagine the best outcomes. Focus on those, be purposeful in the steps you take to ensure that the destination is as close to perfection as it can be for your own imperfect journey.