Years ago, I was walking on a treadmill next to an unknown woman with beautiful long silver hair. The energy emanating from her was of peace, serenity and composure. I kept sneaking glances at her and trying to figure out what it was about her. Finally, I gave in to my inner voice and told her how beautiful her energy was. She turned, looked at me and said, “Thank you. And you are a beautiful teacher.” I stammered, “Oh no. I’m not a teacher. I’m an ex-banker.” She smiled tenderly and said, “No. You are a teacher.”
I’ve thought about her and her statement quite often. It occurred to me that yes, I AM a teacher. I’ve been teaching for most of my life. Early in my banking career I trained the new hires, then created manuals and then taught people the correct way to adhere to those manuals.
When I found Reiki, it never once occurred to me I wouldn’t teach this beautiful healing craft. In fact, I knew within minutes of experiencing Reiki that I would someday teach this to others. My banking career allowed me to know what I wanted (and didn’t want) in a curriculum and in my teaching style.
Now, it seems, I’ve accepted the responsibility of a different type of teaching. This ‘job’ will be full-time for at least 18 years. It’s funny that I never really thought of being a mom as being a teacher. I didn’t view my parents that way and I’m not sure they viewed parenthood as being teachers either. Maybe this is a knowing you get when you are an older (much older) parent. I’m positive I wouldn’t have viewed my role as a teacher if I would have had a baby in my 20’s or even my 30’s.
As parents, we unknowingly teach our children our bad habits as well as our good ones. We do this by just living our life. If we have been doing something the same way for most of our life, it comes naturally to us. It IS us. We may, while in the presence of our children, swear a blue streak at a slow driver (or the Minnesota Vikings) or pitch a huge fit complete with foot stomping and slamming of doors. We may also use derogatory slurs we learned while growing up.
We will be teaching our little ones so many things including how to deal with anger, jealousy and resentment. We will be teaching our babies how to deal with losing, aggression and general meanness. We will be teaching this sometimes without saying a word. They will closely watch how we react and then that’s how and what they will learn. If we are prone to drama, I bet they’ll be prone to drama. If we feel it’s acceptable to make fun of others, then they will feel it’s acceptable to do the same.
Are you getting where I’m going with this? We, as the adults, have choices and most of us have fully functioning minds that understand what WE do, they do. We, again as adults, do not have to be like our parents even if they were the only role models we had. We do not have to pass on the silent treatments, the swearing, the spanking, the yelling and the ‘change your attitudes’ to our children.
Trying to be my mom didn’t work for my starter marriage (see Abuse blog). But it was the eye opening experience it took for me to understand I didn’t have to be her. I have been weaning out the old and embracing the new ever since.
As far as my daughter goes, I knew I would not spank her. To me, spanking didn’t teach me a lesson. Hurt or pain didn’t help me understand why my behavior wasn’t acceptable. What it did was cause me to fear my dad (he was usually the punisher dole’r out’r) and to keep my emotional distance from him. That fear affected me well into my late 30’s.
If we yell and swear at our children, we are teaching them to yell and swear. In reality, yelling and swearing are both ways to try to get the other person’s attention. So why not choose a less abusive and more respectful form of communicating? Perhaps one that may yield positive and nourishing results instead of fear, dissension and anger.
I wish my parents would have utilized a different form of punishment, but the forms they used were what they knew. It was how they were raised. But I’m telling you, I want something different from myself and for my daughter.
I don’t EVER want to see fear in her eyes when she makes a mistake or has an accident or even intentionally misbehaves. I want her to know her dad and I aren’t the only role models in her life. I want her to know how to resolve her upsets without being verbally, physically or emotionally abusive. This, in part, is the legacy I want to leave behind. Then, God willing, I can watch how my daughter adapts and changes that legacy for her own brood.
I vow to sincerely try to break the cycle of abuse. I do not want to teach abuse and I do not want to be abusive. Will I succeed? I don’t know but I’m really, really trying. As the Virginia Slim cigarette slogan goes, “You’ve come a long way baby.”