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I get so passionate saying the things that I do sometimes because I care so much about passing on the knowledge I’ve gained the hard way, that is, being a parent in the trenches, but more importantly, being a child in the trenches. My own childhood has greatly informed me as a parent, and so I reached parenthood determined to be as conscious and deliberate in my actions as possible.

For me, one of the goals of parenting is to help my child be himself and love himself so he can go out into the world and share his abilities and joys with others, thereby making the world better. I told this very thing to a group of young mothers today, gathered to hear me talk about seizing the moment and making the most of our toughest parenting challenges. I talk about being a generous parent, able to understand that my child’s needs are frequently more urgent than my own. I just love the notion that we as adults are more mature than our children and therefore can be conscious of our needs, able to defer them to a later time. I am talking about using our cell phones, being on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest and anything else that distracts us from being with our children in the moment. And since I do have needs of my own, I manage this by setting aside time for my children when they ask for it, especially when they are little.

I want to tell as many people as will listen that when children are small is the time to teach them that we have respect for who they are, that we are actively listening for clues about them and the direction they may want to take in life, and that we are willing to put in the time to be with them. These three things send a message loud and clear that we value our children and this in turns creates the self-esteem we all hope for.

I love spreading this message and today I say a grateful thank you to the moms at Fairview Village Church who welcomed me this morning and invited me to expound on these hard-learned lessons.