What is the best gift you can give to your children?
Many parents will answer it is unconditional love or maybe responsibility, confidence, imagination or resilience. However, psychologists might give a different answer…
Simply put, the greatest gift you can give to your child(ren) is to be a happy, fulfilled whole person.
This sets your child(ren) free from having to be caregivers and healers of you and simultaneously be free to be themselves. Here is embodied true empowerment.
Children take the torch to fulfillment
Look around you. It’s not difficult to find the adult children who are still sacrificing themselves on the crucible of their parent’s unlived lives, whether in the form of dashed dreams, unrealized values, dissatisfactions, unhappiness and outright despair, misery and suffering. Many people deal with a parent’s unresolved issues.
As long as we unconsciously serve a parent’s ambitions, agenda or limitations, we are prisoners of the past.
To the degree a parent has an unlived life with abandoned dreams, unrequited love and incomplete realization of their life vision, the children will take on this torch to fulfillment in their lives, whether on a conscious or unconscious basis. It’s like children are so heavily invested in their parent’s well being, happiness and healing that they will do just about anything to “make it so.”
There is another reason to strive for a happy and fulfilling life: children naturally imitate what they see. Unfortunately, a child will internalize characteristics of an abusive, frightened, or depressed parent as well as a caring, confident and happy me. Adult modeling narrows children’s choices.
Is something essential missing?
As we create ourselves, it is inevitable that life will move into particular structures and forms, into defined and defining patterns of organization. Structures and a sense of content are necessary for life to cohere. Pathways and habits develop, and over time they become boundaries, limiting our freedom and narrowing our experience. Our choices become increasingly restricted as we rely upon what is familiar and as we strive to be consistent with who we already are or how others expect us to be. Our thoughts and behaviors reference a self-identity – the ego. By midlife your identity is the institutionalization of your past. You have good reason to be attached to it.
But it is not all of who you are meant to be.
This is true not only when life has disappointed you and achievements have fallen short of expectations, but also if you have accomplished a good measure of success.
Pay attention if you feel time is running out while something essential is still missing.
This is especially important for Expat Moms who gave up their career and other important parts of their life.
Only 9% of trailing spouses are completely satisfied with their life abroad (Internations 2015). They dislike being financially dependent (65%) and find it difficult to give up their previous career (60%). 63% say they miss their personal support network.
Expat Moms should have a life of their own.
Sarah (49) was the perfect trailing spouse and perfect mom who had given up having a life of her own. She sacrified her own needs and eventually became frustrated, anxious and overtly controlling. She suffocated her kids and her husband, who started to ignore her or even denigrating her efforts. Only when she started studying law and developing a new professional identity for herself, the balance returned. She was in charge of her life again, felt more complete and fulfilled and her children finally had the space to find their own autonomy and independency.
Are you completely satisfied with your life? Do you feel something is missing?
If you wish to give your offspring the finest possible gift, deal with your own unlived life.
Living your unlifed life can feel like the experience of adolescence all over again. One dimension of the personality may cling to safety, predictability, and earthly embrace, while another hungers for ecstatic experience, transcendence, spiritual homecoming. To be caught between identities is a vulnerable, frightening position. We may question who we are and ask ourselves: What is the purpose of my life? In the second half of life it is not so much what you do that matters; it is the level of consciousness that you bring to your doing. Your outer purpose needs to be aligned with your greater inner calling. Bringing the calmness and focus of being into doing activities is a supreme achievement.