Both Latin and Greek use the word philosophia, from philo- (“loving”) and sophia (“knowledge, wisdom”), to denote the “system a person forms for conduct of life.” Today, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “philosophy” as “a theory or attitude held by a person or organization that acts as a guiding principle for behavior.” We all have philosophies that shape our response to the world around us, be it – “Live & Let Live,” “Carpe Diem,” or “Do Unto Others …” Many, if not most, of our guiding principles, however, are subconscious. For example, I am generally risk averse – I don’t like to gamble, break the rules, or race go-carts. But I hate to miss out on anything, so I am much more likely to take a risk if my friends or family are (so my answer to the old “Would you jump off a bridge if ____ did?” is usually yes!).
I am comfortable with who I am as an individual, and I am probably too set in my ways to change my underlying philosophies at this point anyhow. But I have only just become a parent, so am still discerning and devising the principles that will guide how I raise my child(ren). Rather than fall into habits or follow whatever fad is in fashion, I want to be mindful in forming my parenting philosophy.
To that end, below is my brainstorming of values, promises, requests, and wisdom I want to impart to my offspring:
- You are loveable and loved.
- Please stay true to yourself and do not judge others.
- You are not perfect, but I expect you to try your best and to strive for improvement.
- Please be vulnerable with me; it will make us both stronger.
- You deserve the greatest happiness, but you must take responsibility for pursuing, recognizing, and basking in it.
- Please respect the rules I make, even when you do not understand or agree with them.
- Your worth is inherent, it does not rise and fall with your accomplishments and failures; do not let outside people or events make you question your own value.
- Please talk to me; I am always ready to listen.
- You will not always get what you want, but you will learn to appreciate and share what you have.
- Please do not fear mistakes or rejection, just try to learn from them.
- You will ache and, although I cannot take away your pain, I will join you in it and teach you how to feel and overcome it.
- You will learn by watching me.
- Please treat yourself and others with equal compassion.
- You will test boundaries and my patience, but I will remain firm in my commitment to helping you grow into a person of integrity, curiosity, strength, and kindness.
Reading back through this list, it looks like my Parenting Philosophy will be based on teaching by example and communication. I am sure that it will evolve as my son grows up, and I will try to remain conscious of these principles as we face new challenges as a family.