This blog will be for current and/or former LIFE in the middle participants, as well as anyone else that is looking for practical ways to improve his or her attitude, relationships, perspective, knowledge base, or life in general. It will be the medium through which people can access LIFE in the middle's correlated materials, such as video clips, instructor reflections, books related to class topics, interaction/relational models, links to other websites, etc. Look for new information to be posted frequently, particularly following class sessions. Understand, however, that I am solely responsible for the site's content and that any statements, artwork, videos, and/or other materials found herein do not represent the views of any other person or organization, including any of my employers. Having said that, I hope you find the information that is and will soon be available here helpful as you strive to create a real LIFE that is happy, healthy, and productive. Best wishes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

#13: Art reflects LIFE - Parenting

About a week and a half ago, we talked about creating art and some of the life lessons we can learn in the process. In addition to these (finding appropriate models, participating in the creative process and receiving assistance, measuring up to standards, finding opportunity in adversity, etc.), we ended by discussing the concept of personalizing proven principles. I showed you some drawings that I had done in the recent past and explained to you the principles that they represented. I will include some that we viewed and discussed both below and in future posts. This post will focus on drawings related to parenting.



These drawings depict a mom and a dad dressed in Bat costumes. The principle is illustrated in answering the following questionwhat is Batman's super power? The answer: He doesn't have one. He does, however, have some important characteristics that help him to have success as a crime fighter. For us as parents trying to help our children fight destructive influences in their lives, it is especially important to remember a particular pair of these. First, Batman has a lot of tools/resources, many of which are found on his utility belt. Second, he uses them wisely, choosing different tools at different times as he responds to various situations.

Some parents resort all too often to such things as "taking their belts off" to discipline children. Rather than taking our belts off, let us first create "parenting utility belts" full of tools and resources to use in helping our children learn life's most important lessons. Then let us leave these belts on at all times and be ready to help our children with the tools/skills/etc. we have at our disposal. Likewise, let us seek to acquire as many tools, skills, and resources as we can so that we can become increasingly more prepared. With these parenting utility belts (unlike with normal belts) the bigger the better; the more utilities we have, the more useful we can be to our children in times of need.

On Our Shoulders

In a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676, Sir Isaac Newton noted the reason for his success in such grand endeavors as the invention of calculus and defining the laws of motion. Said he, "I stood on the shoulders of giants." In other words, Newton recognized that his success would not have been possible without those that paved the way for him. With that in mind, consider the following illustration:

Hopefully we can all recognize our shortcomings as parents while simultaneously realizing that to our children, we are giantsthe people that they look up to the most. In order to give them the best chance for success, it is important for us to be able to combine the elements of (1) showing love for our children and (2) setting limits and having guidelines/expectations for them to follow. The dad and son depicted here help us to visualize how this can occur. The dad is showing love for his son by spending time with him, helping him to see things he would otherwise be unable to see, etc. Notice, though, that his hands are placed securely on his son's legs. He does this in order to keep his son safe, to prevent him from falling and sustaining unnecessary injuries. This is the purpose of limits and structure in parenting.

Notice also where the boy is in relation to his dad: the son is above his father. It is my hope that my children will grow up to be better than me in every aspect of life. I could think of no greater honor or success as a parent. This picture reminds us that as we successfully combine love and limits in our parenting, we give our kids the best chance to succeed, to be better than we ever were. May we all strive to lift our children above ourselves, that they in turn may do the same.

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