This is a fact of life. Parents are our first and last teachers. Though children often outlive their parents, often the full realization of the lessons parents teach doesn’t come until a parent passes away. Even through adolescence when peers trump parents as the most respected source of learning, its the words and actions at home that either hold youth or drop as they cross the threshold into adulthood.
The book by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher was one of the only parenting books I read when raising my now fifteen-year-old daughter. That, and Operating Instructions by Annie Lamott. One message, two ends of a spectrum; Rahima’s soft, rainbow silk Waldorf perspective and Annie’s raw, real, witty, gritty and very colorful outlook – children learn their first, most deeply laid lessons, from the adults in their home. And the blessing and the curse are this; our children have exactly the parents they were meant to have who will teach them exactly the lessons they were meant to learn. This commonly held belief, is a salve on the weary hearts of parents everywhere who show up in myriad forms to the best of their ability, to do the toughest job on earth.
So what is the most important lesson we want to teach children? Be nice? Work hard? Maybe its to be yourself. Annie Lamott writes, in a Oprah Magazine article, Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start, “We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” This could be the most valuable example we set in our role as teachers.