I asked a really good friend of mine for some blog post inspiration; I needed some new ideas!
So, today I'll be sharing about one of those ideas she gave me. She wanted to know how being a mom has impacted my world view.
Whoa. Big topic. I've had to take some time to think about that one, to be honest. It wasn't something I could just quickly answer -- not even to myself. It is also a topic that I feel can't really be adequately covered in a blog post but I'll hit on some main issues for me.
I'd say the first thing that motherhood has done is actually GIVEN me a world view. Before children, my view was sort of myopic and self centered. I didn't think much about the future, what impact I might have on the world, or others, how the world works or anything. I was just going from one day to the next not really thinking.
So, becoming a mom forced me to THINK and to take notice. It didn't happen all at once. It was gradual, but when you become responsible for another human being -- one that is helpless for the first years of their life -- you are suddenly jolted from your slumber and the world looks like a much scarier, more dangerous and out of control place. You come to the realization that it is not all about fun and adventure. I actually had a "come to reality" moment (Well, technically LOTS of them).
You realize that your actions, and the actions of others, can have an impact on someone else's life who doesn't have any say-so in what the grown ups are doing AND can't really speak up for themselves or voice their dislike of their current circumstances. You start looking at things through the lens of "Will this be good for me AND my child? How will this impact his/her future? How can I protect this little human AND teach them kindness, compassion, to enjoy life, take care of themselves, help others and NOT make them neurotic, anxious or fearful?????"
You are basically teaching them survival skills AND how to flourish and enjoy life at the same time. No easy feat, let me tell ya! My motherhood has morphed over the years in so many ways. Before motherhood my view was narrow, it widened a bit after the birth of my first child and a little more with each subsequent child but I don't think it will be "done". I think it's an ongoing process. (I mean, I'll be a GRANDMOTHER one day --YIKES -- that is bound to also effect me and how I view things.)
At first, I was all about providing the basic necessities: Clothing, shelter, food, affection, rules/boundaries and consequences. I didn't think much at all about my children's mental, emotional or spiritual health. I didn't even focus on my own. And the world will wound you because it is full of hurting people. (As a result, I have had to grow my own emotional intelligence so that I can help my kids navigate their own.)
That is one of the first things I started noticing: How badly other people are hurting and how mean, unkind and rude it can make them. Teaching kids how to navigate that is hard. You want them to be kind and compassionate, understanding but not doormats or involved in a toxic abusive relationship either. (I rely almost solely on Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend to help with this. That is what they DO and they make it so clear and easy to understand. Their book, Boundaries, is where I recommend starting.)
I think next was noticing how much politics, laws, movies, music, entertainers, etc.. influenced the world around me and individuals. How that might change the future for my kids, in both positive and negative ways. But it wasn't until recently that I decided I needed to actually talk to them about these things at home instead of ignoring them. I guess prior to now, I just didn't feel qualified or confident enough to do so. I don't want to "brainwash" my kids into thinking like I do -- but if the world can present their ways of doing things to all of us, then I can and should talk to my children about the way I believe, why AND show them how our government system works, how to recognize a toxic person, how to recognize when something is likely harmful to them or immoral.
Another thing that came into my view, was how different other people live in other places, countries and cultures. I think most of tend to live in a bubble, we don't realize that there are other people around the world that aren't necessarily wrong in the way they do things -- just different. They don't have to participate in other cultures if they don't want to, but learning about them is necessary to remain compassionate and understanding. There is more than one way to live than how we do it here in America. We can often assume that how we experience and do life is the same for everyone, so I do try and teach my kids that there are other people out their, in different countries, living very differently from us.
Probably the biggest eye opener for me was how important it is to teach my kids about the good things in the world but also about the hate that exists and how to recognize it and not contribute to it. Lately, especially, there a lot of hate, rage, anger, violence and negativity. I strive to teach my kids to keep their optimism even in the face of all of this and to be a LIGHT in the world -- to never, ever join the darkness. Part of that is teaching them to make decisions about their own personal code of conduct, or their integrity. How do they want to live life? What is their inner moral compass? and that it is ok to not fit in, to be their own person even when pressured to do something they know is wrong or goes against their own moral code. It is an ongoing process because I have changed that over the years. My priorities change so my personal, moral rules/views change too.
I want my kids to accept that their is good AND bad in life and in each of us. It is inescapable.
You can't avoid it completely, not in others, or yourself. I think as I look at the world today, I find myself somewhat desperate to teach my kids how important it is to be clear, kind and honest with others and themselves. We can't grow unless we accept all of our parts and then submit them to God and ask Him to help us change and mature.
I see a lot of people who don't take responsibility for their actions and I am trying to teach my kids how unacceptable that is -- natural consequences exist when you don't think through your choices and you can ruin relationships if you act carelessly and without regard to others. You can find yourself in legal trouble, financial trouble or even in physical danger if you act impulsively and you can also potentially put others in those same situations as well-- teaching them that their actions DO effect others is something that I've learned is needed in this world because we have a world full of people who don't seem to consider that.
I'll reiterate that I think that the main way having children has impacted my world view is to actually form a world view, to pay attention to the world and what it happening around the globe, to not just think that the things I experience happen in vacuum. I believe that the world will teach my kids some bad things if I don't speak up and with my children. I see that the world, in general, doesn't really care about the individual as much as they used to and that I need to at least TRY and teach my kids to think about the impact they might have on one single person. I think if more people worried about that, then the world could truly change.
I see how selfish, self centered, narcissistic and immature the world has become and I am trying to do my best to not allow my kids in that direction but instead to encourage, guide, mentor, model and expect the best version of themselves.
Our world desperately needs that right now.
I have learned that I can't take a backseat to raising, guiding, mentoring, challenging, educating and teaching my children. I understand now, more than ever just how much of a responsibility being a mother/parent is and more about what that involves too -- and to NOT just hand over my kids to government institutions and other individuals to do it for me. Personally, I think that part of the problems we have in the world today are parents who have abdicated their responsibilities to their children -- but none of us are free from the consequences of that choice. It is my responsibility as their mom to find the potential in them and help them grow it. One of my goals is to make sure they have a strong sense of love and belonging because that is missing in the world today. I hope they can then pass that on to their children and to others.
All of this pushes me to grow, mature, learn and change. I want to be the kind of adult my children would want to become.