This week marks the high school graduation of my oldest son Eli. For my wife, Neila, and I, this is a first. Many of you reading this, may have already gone through this experience with one or more of your children. For other parents, the time is yet to come.
There is no script for us to access that tells us how to feel or what to say in this moment. There is only deep reflection and some regret.
Personally, when I reflect back on the past 18 years, as much as I know in my heart I did a good job as a parent, could I have done more as a father?
I sometimes regret not spending more time just listening to Eli and truly hearing him. Being a parent is tough. We can oftentimes give into our own needs first rather than just be there for our kids.
After a long day of work, it’s easy to want to turn off. In fact, it’s human to feel this. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t regret certain times when I look back.
Could I have provided more emotional presence for Eli at times? Could I have better listened to his perspective, even when I disagreed? Could I have just listened more instead of trying to fix his problems? Did I do enough to help prepare Eli to face the world as an adult?
Did I….Could I have…….I wish I would have……….
In looking back, it is what it is and I can’t change anything now. But as I scan the past, I know the good far outweighs the not-so-good and ungraceful moments that come with being a parent. The truth is I think Neila and I did a pretty decent job, but it’s human instinct to want to have done better.
Our only wish in moving forward is that Eli embraces the world, his talents, and his dreams. It is now time to surrender trust to him to find his own process to navigate the world. As well, we have to trust in the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and mental skills that he has acquired over the years. For it is these tools that will help him to thrive and to find authentic purpose in his life.
In reality though, it’s not really a good bye, but more so a shift in perspective. And an amazing opportunity to look through a different lens at our parenting.
As well-known author Daniel Pink states:
“Regret makes us human. Regret makes us better.”
Do we regret certain things? Of course we do. But, we are also so proud of the young man Eli Kent Vasily has become.
And, as he ventures off into the world, we wish him only peace, happiness, fulfillment, joy, and deep learning.
We look forward to seeing him pursue his dreams.
As you think about your own children, what comes to mind when you see the questions below?
How do you deal with regret as a parent?
What have you learned?
How do you continue to learn to be the best parent you can be?
And lastly, how do you ensure full presence in your life?
Rather than ruminating about what could have been with your children or projecting forward to what might be, how are you accessing the present moment to be the very best parent you can be?
Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.