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Growth Happiness Love Parenting The Qualities of a Child

The Privilege and Joy of Parenting

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Fathers Day is not just a day to honour our dads (My own dad is my role model for kindness, generosity and resilience); it’s a time to remember the privilege and joy of being a parent.

This month, as my son turns 27, I recall that I was just three years older, when he came into this world and into our lives. He was due on our 3rdanniversary but came two days early. (I was looking up the traditional present for a 30thanniversary. Not silver, gold or diamonds but rather a medal my wife deserves . . . for all the times I’ve come home late for dinner or stepped out of social events to attend patients in hospital).

Though I was in the early years of my practice, I had already delivered hundreds of babies. Nearly three decades later, each birth seems no less transcendent; I appreciate the privilege of being a family physician and to be present during the spiritual milestones of my patients’ lives.

As new parents, our lives and identities were transformed much as they did with marriage. We were no longer just individuals or a couple, living only for ourselves. In a magical moment, we became parents . . . and a family, living beyond our own self-interests.

We were responsible for all of the needs of a precious child.

Being a parent is the greatest of gifts. From the moment of his birth, my life has been infused with new levels of joy, enhancing my experience of everyday life. I would come to see life through my son’s wide and curious eyes. The world was again teeming with wonder and adventure.

I became more mindful and present. Those ordinary parent-child activities – reading and drawing together, playing in the park, building sandcastles, going to the Vancouver Aquarium, riding the Stanley Park train, swimming and learning to ride a bike – were extraordinary. They remain vivid, palpable memories today.

We grow too as our children grow up. We learn patience, acceptance and most importantly unconditional love. We are given the honour to give forward the legacy of love we have received from our own parents.

And being loved by our children, motivates us to be our best selves that we may be exemplary role models and worthy of their love.

This Fathers Day, we will celebrate and thank our fathers – and graciously appreciate the joy and privilege of being parents.

 

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Grace Happiness Parenting

#49 Happy to be humble – the secrets of sane parenting

To find happiness as a parent requires the humility to learn from your children.

As a dad, I sometimes can’t tell if I’m parenting or being parented. At different stages of our relationships, it’s hard to tell who’s growing faster.

I fondly remember one fall evening soon after my two sons had moved to a new elementary school.  As I was rushing them to an evening concert, I told them, “I left my office early today, mom had dinner ready for us, but we’re still going to be late. So whose fault is that?”

“Kind of yours, Dad” said my older son. “Mom doesn’t drive this way to school.”

Parenting requires patience – with your children, your spouse and yourself. As young parents, we have total responsibility for a helpless newborn but we don’t start off as experts. As we gain experience, we can become more humble and continue to learn.

Each child is a unique combination of you and your spouse’s qualities. This can feed back on your own vanity. When my son was putting on muscle and pushing heavier weights than his football teammates, I realized that those were my genes he was expressing and I was inspired to work out even harder myself.

When one of my sons was especially set in his ways, I attributed his stubbornness to my wife. She blamed it on me. We finally agreed that he got a double dose.

I’ve come to realize that when one of my children is being especially infuriating, I might just be seeing a reflection of myself. Accepting your children can be like accepting yourself.

The learning never stops. It continues in both directions.

When I was driving my daughter to elementary school (She’s now in high school), I once told her, “You’re so lucky to be a kid.”

“You were a kid before” she answered.

She meant that I already had my turn to be a kid and have fun. It was her turn to enjoy being 12 years old. And my turn to enjoy being her dad.

Your happiness exercise for today: To be happy in life requires the humility to be forever learning from it. As long as we’re alive, we are changing, growing and learning. Think about this past week. What has life taught you? Be thankful for your teachers.

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Forgiveness Happiness Love Parenting

A Hundred Days to Happiness #48: The best job in the world . . . being a parent

Early entry in Disneyland

On June 1st, 1992, my identity and my life changed forever – for the better.

My first child was born and I became a father. I instantly understood unconditional love and was responsible for the care of someone whose wellbeing was more important than my own.

When our children are still toddlers, we imagine their unlimited potential. What will they learn? What talents will they discover? What will they create?

As my children learned and grew, I learned and grew with them. As they discovered the world, I rediscovered it through their bright and curious eyes. The universe and life itself had become more wondrous to me.

My children taught me the most about giving out and giving forward without expectation. They taught me how to love more fully and unconditionally, and they taught me how to forgive.

They may not realize that it was they who helped me through the loss of my mother. They  embodied my mother’s legacy. The love my mother gave to me in our life together was the love I now give to each of my children and the love that they will give forward to others.

Now 23 years old, my son is a popular, talented and caring young man with a bold and bright future ahead of him. I am proud of the choices he has made and who he has become, but even if he was not all these things, I would still love him just the same because each of my children have taught me how to love.

As I raised them, my children have raised me up and made me a better person.

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Compassion Happiness Love

A Hundred Days to Happiness #46: What I Learn From My Dad

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My dad has taught me the most about the art of living, and even though I think I’m grown up, he continues to teach me how to be a better father and how to be happy.

My dad never ever lectured me. In fact, every time he tried to tell us a story, we couldn’t resist asking him to get on with it. So he didn’t bother giving me the talk about the birds and the bees. Instead, Mom and Dad left adequate reading material in the house, and I didn’t have any questions left to ask.

Dad did teach me the manly arts of changing tires, putting on chains, replacing engine oil, using every tool in the workshop and doing the yard work, but he taught me the most important things by example.

My dad only made me feel guilty by being the better man. When my son put a dent in my car, I couldn’t allow myself to get mad, because when I rolled and totaled my first car, all my dad cared about was that my girlfriend and I were alright.

When my kids need my help at an inconvenient time, I never complain because Dad never did.

Be present for your wife and family. Growing up, I always knew where my dad was. He was either at his office or at home. He was never out with the boys. He didn’t drink, smoke, gamble or do anything he wouldn’t want us to do.

He did everything with us. He was always available to talk or to help. He would drop everything to give us a ride.

Live according to your values. My dad always said what he meant. He would ask us to return gifts he didn’t need. This made him the hardest person for whom to buy a present, but we’d always know the truth.

My parents didn’t tell me to what to do for a living. They just wanted us to do honest work.

Enjoy the simple pleasures in life. My dad continued to enjoy fireworks, parades and the PNE long after we became teenagers and lost interest. He still loves those simple pleasures.

My dad continues to enjoy a good meal. He still shares the details of his best meals – from 60 years ago to yesterday. He still enjoys every bite.

Don’t act your age. My dad never profiled or pidgeon-holed other people. He doesn’t judge others by their age, education or appearance, and he never used age as a reason to be any different or act any different from who he is.

He told me that we should keep on working as long as we’re having fun. Though he was still having fun, he had to retire two years ago when his office lease expired. Some landlords can be such party poopers.

Remember the positive. My grandfather died when my dad was a toddler. Dad grew up during the depression in the poverty of Cumberland’s Chinatown in an age of racism, but whenever he spoke of the past, there was never bitterness.

He remembers happiness: the joys of his childhood, good times with old friends, the kindness of others and his love with my mom.

Work hard but be generous. My dad worked hard. He worked to support his mom and family, to pay for his mechanics courses, and to pay for his university education. He taught us to work hard and to do our best by example.

With my mom, dad gave me a gift that he wasn’t given: a home full of music, humour, literature and love. It’s a legacy that I strive to pass on to my children.

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Friendship Happiness Love

#38 Where is the Happiest Place on Earth?

Early entry in Disneyland

One of our favourite family vacation destinations has been Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. I’ve told my kids to notice the transformation in the families around us as we walked through the gates and entered the Magic Kingdom.

Of course, they noticed that a lot of kids were still crying, some teens still looked bored and grown-ups were still arguing just as they had been a moment ago.

But as a family we were determined to have fun and make the most of each day together – even after we left the park.

The lesson to my kids was to ask themselves, “If I can’t be happy in the happiest place on earth, where can I find happiness?”

Since they were toddlers, I’ve been teaching my kids to appreciate the people in their lives, enjoy the joys of the present, and to seize each day. They have taught me the same things.

Happiness is not found in a place far away, in the past or in the future, and it we won’t find lasting happiness if we are always looking outside of ourselves.

Happiness is part of the art of living. It requires an attitude: an intention to be as happy as you can be, to appreciate what you’ve been given, to accept the challenges before you and to enjoy what you have today.

Happiness requires action. Sometimes the best in life can come to you out of luck and grace, but you can miss out on your potential for happiness by not doing what you love to do.

We each have a calling – what we were meant to do in this life. It’s your personal gift to the world. Don’t let everyone down, and don’t disappoint yourself.

Happiness requires living fully: living in the present, living mindfully, living graciously and living for something greater than yourself.

Your happiness exercise for today: Think about your home, school or workplace. What can you do or change through your own attitude and actions to make each of them the happiest place on earth for yourself and everyone else?

Tomorrow, ask your family, your partner, your friends, coworkers and classmates, what you can do together to create the happiest place on earth right here and right now.

Categories
Happiness

A Hundred Days To Happiness: Happy To Be Humble – Secrets Of Sane Parenting

To find happiness as a parent requires the humility to learn from your children.

As a dad, I sometimes can’t tell if I’m parenting or being parented. At different stages of our relationships, it’s hard to tell who’s growing faster.

I fondly remember one fall evening soon after my two sons had moved to a new elementary school.  As I was rushing them to an evening concert, I told them, “I left my office early today, mom had dinner ready for us, but we’re still going to be late. So whose fault is that?”

“Kind of yours, Dad” said my older son. “Mom doesn’t drive this way to school.”

Parenting requires patience – with your children, your spouse and yourself. As young parents, we have total responsibility for a helpless newborn but we don’t start off as experts. As we gain experience, we can become more humble and continue to learn.

Each child is a unique combination of you and your spouse’s qualities. This can feed back on your own vanity. When my son was putting on muscle and pushing heavier weights than his football teammates, I realized that those were my genes he was expressing and I was inspired to work out even harder myself.

When one of my sons was especially set in his ways, I attributed his stubbornness to my wife. She blamed it on me. We finally agreed that he got a double dose.

I’ve come to realize that when one of my children is being especially infuriating, I might just be seeing a reflection of myself. Accepting your children can be like accepting yourself.

The learning never stops. It continues in both directions.

Last week, I again told my daughter, “You’re so lucky to be a kid.”

“You were a kid before” she answered.

She meant that I already had my turn to be a kid and have fun. Now it’s her turn to enjoy being 12 years old. And it’s my turn to enjoy being her dad.

Your happiness exercise for today: To be happy in life requires the humility to be forever learning from it. As long as we’re alive, we are changing, growing and learning. Think about this past week. What has life taught you? Be thankful for your teachers.