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Have you ever imagined that you could find that one question that could make you a better parent? This happened to me one day when I least expected it.
She was sitting on a bench near the place where we were playing. Our looks met for a second and I could see the sadness in her eyes. We continued to play and laugh but that sadness was still in my thoughts. After a while, Bogdan started to play with another boy and I sat on the bench. I can’t even remember how we began talking. Maybe somehow she felt that I was moved by her look. Or maybe she just needed to speak with someone and I was right there, next to her.
Soon, I found out the reason behind that sad look. And I understood it so well, like every mom certainly would have! She told me that after a trial with her ex-husband she lost the custody of her child. And that the child will soon move with his dad far away from her, in a different city. I could feel the regret in her voice. And it melted my heart. I didn’t find out the reasons why this happened to her and they didn’t even matter at that point. I wish I would have known what to tell her. But the truth is that nothing I could have said would have made a difference.
The thing that remained deep in my heart after that discussion was what she said about regrets. She told me that in the moment when she lost the custody, she started to realize everything that she could have done better as a mom. The opportunities she missed, the times when she was angry for minor issues that don’t even matter, the moments when she felt that she has more important things to do instead of just playing on the floor.
Later that day, when Bogdan was napping next to me, I asked myself: What would I regret if suddenly my son would move far away from me? It was painful even to imagine this but it was a helpful exercise. Because sometimes we take things for granted and we don’t even realize the mistakes that we make. Or the things that we could have done better.
And it helped me see what I could do better.
So now I want to invite you to make this exercise with me. Just find a quiet moment and ask yourself: What would you regret if your kids would move far away from you tomorrow? Allow yourself to really imagine this and feel those strong emotions that it may bring.
Would you regret that you haven’t spent enough time with your kids? That you haven’t played more instead of doing chores? That you scrolled on the phone instead of just speaking with them? Or that you raised your voice for those insignificant mistakes that they made? Or that you said “no” too many times?
I am sure that every one of us regrets something. But this question is not about feeling guilty. We all make mistakes and no one is a perfect parent. What this question can do is to help us understand what really matters! And once we know what we would regret, to live our life in a way that we will never need to regret that thing!
If you would regret yelling at your kids, make a commitment to stop today. If you would regret not spending more time with them, start planning wonderful moments together. Or if you would regret not telling them how much you love them, just go now and hug them with all your love.
We will never remember those small things that we complain about every day: the milk spilled over the table, the giant laundry pile, the running around the house at bedtime. Over the years, we will only remember the important things that defined our relationship with the children. We can make the difference now between remembering them with regret or cherishing them as wonderful memories.
We don’t need parenting experts to tell us what the good choices are. Usually, the answer is already inside our heart. We just need to find it! Our children deserve this from us!
If you have answered the question and found the answer helpful, write it down! It can be really useful to have it at hand next time you face a difficult challenge as a parent. Or when you get overwhelmed or confused. Remembering what is really important for us and our kids can be the best guidance that we need in this difficult journey of parenting.
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” (Bill Wilson)
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” (Robert Brault)
p.s. If you want to share your answers with me, I would be glad to discover them! Each answer can be a precious inspiration for any parent.
photo credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / shutterstock.com