I was sitting with a friend today, talking about our kids and the ups and downs of parenting in general. She complimented me on being a successful parent and while I was flattered, I told her that being successful really depends on what your definition of success really means.
Does it mean that your kid turned out like a mini-you, the way you dreamed they would when you stood by their cribs watching their newborn chests rise and fall with each breath? Does it mean they all chose the same path you chose, whether it be their career or religion? Does it mean they are making a ton of money and live in a huge house and take their family on luxurious vacations every year? Does it mean they staunchly support the same political party that you have all your life? Does it mean that their priorities fall directly in sync with yours?
Parenting is the most difficult job on the planet earth and having “successful” children isn’t that easy to define. There is no real measure of what it means to be successful because it’s so subjective. Some will say it’s all in their education, some will say it’s in their career, and some will say it’s in their righteousness. In fact, while talking to my friend, I realized that their individual success is not for me to define. Yes, they are my kids, but what they consider successful in their personal lives may not mesh with what I consider successful in mine.
What I do know is that to me they are successful in the moral and ethical things that I find important. They are mentches, kind, upstanding kids who are happy to lend a helping hand when needed. They are polite and personable. They help me when asked and sometimes when not asked. They are appreciative and they are hard workers. They are creative and free-thinkers; they are tolerant and inclusive and they are friendly to outsiders. And they are fun to be around… at least most of the time 🙂
The rest is gravy, if you really think about it.
Getting all riled up about the stupid little (or big!) decisions they make along the way isn’t worth it. Making mistakes is a part of growing up, a part of life. And despite how difficult – and gut-wrenching – it is not to intervene at times, I have to remind myself to appreciate the fact that I’m lucky enough to be around to watch them grow and blossom.
If you raise your children to be kind, considerate and conscientious, they will find their own version of success. It may not be your version – or mine – but I’m a proud Jewish mother nonetheless.