We learn much about parenting from the people around us, especially those we love.
My grandmother Mur was only educated to the third grade but she was one of the wisest people I ever knew. She raised eight children while carrying water from a stream to cook and do her family’s daily laundry. She lost her husband, my grandfather, when she was in her forties and managed to survive and finish raising her brood on her own. Still, with all her misery, she sang happy tunes while tapping out the beat with her foot. Mur always had company, friends and family stopping by without calling ahead. She was poor her entire life but she could literally take ‘nothing’ and make a meal that satisfied and was so tasty it left you wanting more.
Mur had a wonderful way of putting things into perspective. She would take anything that you or I might consider upsetting, and put it into terms of ten years. When the peach man sold her a bushel basket of peaches with bad fruit hidden on the bottom she dismissed it saying, “What difference will those bruised peaches make in ten years? Not one little bit!” Instead of being upset or angry she went on about her day with a smile.
When my daughter Chelsey received a bad test score or skipped tennis practice to visit a classmate instead, I thought of Mur and ten years to gain perspective. Scores would be averaged out and Chelsey was a good student so in terms of ten years — that was not a problem. As for skipping one day of tennis, I ask you, what is one day of missed practice?
The outcome might be a different story if my daughter lost an arm or was hit by a car while visiting her friend. That would affect her (and me) for much more than ten years. In hindsight, playing hooky only got grounded her for the following week. If she consistently brought home poor grades after studying and completing all the work, however, it could have changed whether or not she went to college.
Thinking in terms of ten years takes the immediate pressure off and puts everything into proper perspective. Parents putting things into perspective in many situations can help them to see beyond the here and now. Thinking in terms of ten years is quite empowering!
Mur would have loved to know I, scrawny kid that I was, actually learned valuable lessons from her and that I was sharing what I learned with others.
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her blog here contact page.