Parenting – the long game and test of endurance

Posted 8 May 2019 2:51pm

Parenting is all about the long game, and being a mother is the greatest test of endurance.

In all my years of experience in schools, I have never met two students that are identical. Each person, regardless of gender or age, is unique and special. This, I would argue, is most likely the same for each daughter or son. Parenting, therefore, is complex.

Patience and determination are among life's primary virtues because most happiness-producing processes take a long time, often with no visible progress. The tyranny of metrics has not yet been applied effectively, nor affectively, to relationships, mastery or child-raising. There is no algorithm for friendship, marriage nor motherhood.

In the lead-up to Mother’s Day, I am sharing my observations about the latter - perhaps some of my reflections will resonate with you.

As we are all parenting our own unique offspring, it would suggest that first, one must know oneself and one’s children well enough to put the right attitude and the right amount of pressure in place at any given time. I believe all parents require an arsenal of parenting skills to parent any one child during any one moment. It is not an exact science. In my family conversations, negotiating with my children - to reach a point of resolution - entails the longest, most winding pathway and reaches the most unsatisfactory and compromised outcome. The outcome is not necessarily the key, it’s more important to keep everyone moving in the same direction and with the same purpose.

My second observation is the conceit of parenthood. We worry that our offspring won’t be able to manage without us, but we must let go and let them take risks, suffer the embarrassment of failure and learn. Here is where we must accept risk, sometimes a lot of it, in order to let them become fully formed adults. To allow our children to take the risks necessary to achieve this goal is an act of courage. To refuse them the opportunity to fail or take risks, to protect our hearts against loss, is an act of despair. Supporting your children is not about taking away risks, challenges and difficulties, it is about support while maintaining and increasing challenge and expectations.

I have inherited a very simple model for parenting from my family. The advice I was given: make yourself useful, be the best version of yourself (do not worry too much about your weaknesses unless they impact negatively on others), dream big and the happier you are, the more friends you’ll have.

I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday at the Mother’s Day Classic and wish you all a weekend filled with joy, surrounded by your loved ones.

Anna Owen