In last week’s Reflection (Reduce the noise, focus on the essentials, and keep it simple.) I shared how I have been paring down and simplifying my life so I could make space for becoming a father. At the end of the email I asked you, the Holstee community, to share your lessons and words of parenting wisdom — the response was incredible.
And what timing. Our baby girl was born this week and it’s been one of the most meaningful, magical experiences of my life. My heart has swelled in ways I didn’t know was possible.
The transition from last month's theme of Simplicity to June's theme of Adventure was particularly pronounced for me this year. It was a great reminder of how much the former can be an enabler for the latter.
The wisdom of this community runs deep so I’d like to reflect back what you so generously had to offer me, categorized into a few buckets below.
Keep yourself healthy
“All the baby needs is happy, healthy parents. If you are centered and strong, your child will be as well!” -Heather
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” - Melissa
“Make sure that you and your wife have each others back when either of you makes what may be an unpleasant decision.” - CJ
“Your daughter will test your strength and push you to your limits of sanity. It will start easily enough and will quickly progress to full on chaos. You will lose your mind. When this happens allow yourself to step away and reset, until you can return to your normal state of mind.” - Dave E.
Be in the moment
“SAVOR EVERY MOMENT.” - Yvonne
“Especially in the first months in the life of your little girl you can set the base of a deeply emotional relationship. I cuddled and hugged as much as I could with my daughter” - Carsten
“Just enjoy the moments and embrace a beginners mind.” - CJ
"Don't wish anything away. No matter what phase you are in, it will change. And it all goes by quickly. So do whatever you can to appreciate the now of whatever stage you're in." - Mike S.
“When you are with your family BE with your family. Learn to be flexible. Listen to your child. If they feel heard, really heard, everything from there is doable.” - Lani
“Put down the parenting books and pick up the baby.” - Gina
"Parenting tiny humans is like living life in fast forward and slow motion all at the same time. Enjoy the show!" - Leslie B
“We asked everyone to stay away for two weeks so that we could bond and find our new rhythm. Its difficult to put into words how special it was.” - Ben
Trust your intuition
“Keep it simple, do what your instincts tell you.” - Max
“You can't mess it up. You will be the exact parent your child needs.” - Melissa
“We're all wrong at least 50% of the time, and it turns out, being wrong isn't so bad, especially in parenting. With each "wrong" choice, you are teaching incredible resilience, flexibility, and forgiveness. And the world always needs more of all three of those things.” - Elaine
“Don't feel that you need to listen to other's parenting advice. Take what you want. Smile and say no thank you to the rest.” - Heather
On guiding your child
“Enjoy them love them and know that you can influence not own and control them.” - Jane
“Teach them character and integrity by example. Say yes whenever you can and when you say no, mean it.” - Barbara
“Let her learn the value of a dollar and the satisfaction and personal pride that comes from working to earn something. As she saves for the things that she wants, she will learn to delay gratification. She is being born into a world of uncertainty. Create family rituals and routines that become sacred to your family. She is growing up in a world of disconnected people. Let her find her voice and know that her thoughts matter. Remember that ultimately, she has her own journey.” - Debbie
And one more to look forward to ;-)
“The best thing about children is they are a gateway to being a grandparent” - Jane
Cecilia also resurfaced two poems on parenting for me I have always loved: On Children by Kahlil Gibran and Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte - you can read both at the end of this note.
Thank you again for sharing your wisdom and hard-learned lessons with me. I am honored to be able to pass them along.
And thanks to Allaina for the great suggestion to share these responses!
With gratitude and love,
Michael, Setareh and Mala
On Children by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte
If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns what envy is.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition,
he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing,
he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.
If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.
If you live with serenity,
your child will live with peace of mind.
With what is your child living?
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