If I Had My Children to Raise Over Again...

Seasoned parent and Oprah Soul Series host, Elizabeth Lesser, shares what she would do differently if she had her children to raise over again

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

by Diane Loomans

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self esteem first, and the house later.
I'd fingerpaint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

This beloved poem, by Diane Loomans, has touched at many a parent’s heartstring.

When seasoned parents are asked what, if anything they would do differently if they had their children to raise over again, their answers can offer great perspective and insight.

I recently had the opportunity to pose this question to Elizabeth Lesser, Oprah Soul Series Host and author of Broken Open – How Difficult Times Help Us Heal:

The Greeks believed that each child was blessed at birth with a personal daimon (what the Romans called your genie)—a personal spirit guide, a golden thread connected to one’s brightest purpose and ultimate destiny. The job of the adults in that child’s life—parents, teachers, mentors—was to help the child make contact with and trust the inner daimon; to discover and follow one’s own genius. Certainly, the Greeks and Romans understood that a parent must teach a child how to navigate society, how to be safe, how to treat other people with respect, how to develop healthy habits—but it was not the role of the parent to unduly influence that child’s sense of self, or to over-direct his steps in the world.


Now that my sons are grown men (one with a child of his own), I can see clearly that so much of the stress and fear and neurotic guilt I cloaked myself in brought an unnecessary heaviness to the parenting experience. I spent a lot of time fretting about who my kids would turn out to be, when they already were those people. I think back to all those sleepless nights I spent worrying or comparing my boys to other kids (Is that “normal” for a two year old? Shouldn’t a 5 year old be more social? Are teens always this way? Why is he so stubborn? So shy? So wild? So disorganized?) That time would have been better spent sizing up exactly who my little ones already were, helping them tune into their daimon, nurturing the seeds of their particular genius, and then getting out of the way so that they could put their own souls in charge of their life.


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