In the latest Disney movie, Turning Red, the hero character, Mei Mei, is a good, disciplined daughter. Her ultimate goal is to be the good girl in her mother’s eyes by obeying her all the time and never disappointing her. In a way, every parent’s dream child? Or maybe not. The animated movie is about this teenage girl who finds the balance of discovering who she is and what she wants out of life while maintaining her parents’ love. It is also about the overprotective mother who learns how to let go and give her daughter the space needed to build her journey and path through life. Of course, like any teenager, by turning thirteen, Mei Mei wanted to be rebellious, get out of her mother’s control, and break all the rules until she found her way back and figured out how to have a win/win relationship with her mother.
The movie ends with these words by Mei Mei, “We all got an inner beast, we all got a messy, loud, weird part of ourselves hidden away, and a lot of us never let it out.” well, I say, get it out, but be responsible enough to control it and don’t let it control you.
While writing this, I went down Memory Lane visiting some of the hard times I gave my parents growing up, and while those memories put a smile on my face now, I feel bad for all the trouble I did, and I am grateful for how patient they were with me; God bless their hearts. Mom & Dad, I love you endlessly.
When I was sixteen, I wanted to do something, and my dad offered to help me, but I insisted on doing it on my own without his guidance or even listening to his advice, thinking that I knew it all. Of course, after days wasted, I hit a brick wall, and I went back to him asking for help. He patiently helped me and taught me a valuable lesson: it is ok to ask for help when needed, and don’t think that asking for help undermines your abilities. On the contrary, always seek knowledge from others who have more experience. Our parents were once young kids, and they have been through much of what we are going through now. Don’t forget that.
Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs any person would have. It is 24/7 nonstop, no vacations, no time off, and you need to give it your best all the time. Don’t be overprotective, but don’t just leave them to do whatever they want all the time. Respect their privacy, but monitor who their friends are and what they look at on social media. Teach them to be self-dependent, but make sure they have everything they need in a good comfortable life. Pray they become successful in life and follow their dreams, but try to direct them into what fields they go in and what areas to avoid, and hope that this passion can put food on the table. In short, it’s a balancing act that you need to learn and master as a parent.
Not all of us are parents, but we are all sons and daughters for our own parents, living or deceased. All of us can gain the wisdom of a parent by being fully present and fully engaged with our parents as they age and complete life’s journey. They will require more care and attention from us, just like what they offered us when we were kids.
Only when you become a parent yourself will your appreciation for your parents elevate to a whole new level, and only then will you understand that all the things they have done that might have seemed tough at the time were just tough love for your own sake.
So, to all of us, sons and daughters, even if you are also a parent:-
- Learn to love your parents unconditionally as much as you can. That’s how they love you, no matter how good or bad you are.
- When you visit them, be mentally there and make every minute count, especially if you don’t live in the same city and only see them a few times a year. You never know when you will see them last.
- When in an argument, focus on making them feel respected and heard and not you being right.
- Pay attention to the little things that make them happy.
- Remember, no matter how old you are, you will always be their little kid.
- Never settle for a career, a college major, or even a life partner, just to please them. Make sure you voice out what you want out of life. You will be surprised at how rational they can be. The last thing you want is to do something just to please them, without really liking it, and it does not go well, and you resent them for it.
To all the parents out there:-
- Don’t try to make your kids a better version of you. Instead, support them to be better versions of themselves.
- Don’t lure them into the guilt trip to make them do what you want; instead, show them the way and use logic to convince them, then let them make their own choices.
- Don’t be overprotective. Let them face the world and learn from their own mistakes. You can watch from a distance if it makes you feel better.
- The quality time you spend with them is more valuable than any positions or gifts you get them.
- The creation of their childhood memories is in your hand. Make sure you help them create cherished ones to look back on when they get older.
- Never jeopardize their sense of safety and stability for anything else. Those two factors will shape their sense of self-esteem as they grow up.
It’s Mother’s Day season in our part of the world, March 21, so happy Mother’s Day to my amazing mother. I love you so much. And to all the super moms out there, all the power to you. We, men, don’t know how you do it, but it’s ok; we don’t need to know. We trust your multitasking abilities.
As Maher Zain says in his beautiful song to all mothers, Number One For Me, “Mom, I am all grown up now. It’s a brand-new day. I would like to put a smile on your face every day.”