Unsolvable Love: 30 More Alternative Visions of Parenthood

As I mentioned in my last Challenge Success blog post, I have taken up the challenge of trying to condense what I have learned about family life over the years into a series of aphorisms that (hopefully) illuminate in valuable ways the many fascinating facets of the parent-child relationship.

Last month, I presented thirty of these, and, in the same spirit, I am presenting another thirty for you to consider and reflect upon.

  1. Try to make thinkable what could previously not be thought, both for you and your child.
  2. No parent cures a child’s loneliness, but every parent deserves to try, and every child deserves a parent who is willing to try.
  3. Look for what is lovely about your child, but don’t be afraid to also look for what is ludicrous.
  4. The obedient child surrenders to the world. The wise child adapts to the world.
  5. When children say mean and hurtful things to their parents, they do so to test, honor and sustain their bond with their parents.
  6. Every child must learn to carry one pain, one loss, one tragedy, that can never be forgotten and never be repaired. If we can keep them company while they carry it, especially if we never know what it is, they will be forever grateful.
  7. Kites remain aloft not only as a result of the wind, but by the pull of the string that holds them against the wind.
  8. What we deny knowing about ourselves will generally be more harmful to us and to our children than what we are willing to know.
  9. Wish for your child to engage in wishful thinking.
  10. Think carefully and fearlessly about how you eventually became who you didn’t want to become … endeavor to teach that lesson to your children.
  11. Come up with one unliftable, unshiftable fact about your child. Then, don’t lift it or shift it.
  12. Allow yourself to feel the full force of regret for the ways in which you disappointed your child — without regret, we regress. Allow yourself to feel the full force of betrayal for the ways in which your child disappointed you — without knowing betrayal, we never know trust.
  13. Avoid condemning your child to being imprisoned in a glorious future.
  14. The attainment of an exasperated truce between parent and child is often a Herculean feat, one for which both parties should be heartily congratulated.
  15. Every child experiences a desire to hurt and to be hurt. Neither desire will hurt them.
  16. When you are about to say something of significance to your child, ask yourself:  “Will my words be of use to her in her struggle with herself, with others, and with the world?” If not, consider being quiet.
  17. You can love your child without knowing who she really is. In fact, that is the truest, most sincere form of parental love.
  18. The two fiercest, most aggressive words in the English language:  “I am…”
  19. Children best manage their desire to destroy by attempting to destroy their parents. The fortunate child repeatedly fails in this endeavor. The fortunate parent repeatedly feels destroyed, which means that he has survived.
  20. There is a small but resonating space that exists between thought and feeling — look for it within yourself, and help your child to find it inside of her.
  21. The most significant growth a child experiences always takes place internally, and, like a seedling setting down roots, will be completely unobservable to the parent. Visible change is like the body, invisible change is like the soul — one lasts longer than the other.
  22. The healthy child yearns to be loyal to his family in a disloyal way.
  23. Gradually sharing with our children our personal darkness helps them to see the light. Gently revealing to our children their personal darkness helps them to follow that light towards the discovery of their true nature.
  24. Children fret about being trapped by love as much as they fret about love’s disappearance.
  25. When we don’t see our child clearly, we conclude either that the child is not there to be seen or that we are blind, forgetting how important it is for children to conceal themselves.
  26. Growth means eventually finding the adult love that softens our childhood pain.
  27. Loving families are held together by the silent tension of a barely restrained scream.
  28. Children prefer to be denounced than dismissed.
  29. Set out to gently illuminate, rather than harshly eliminate, your child’s flaws and weaknesses.
  30. Children will sometimes behave in bizarre and inexplicable ways. Woe to those who don’t.

Dr. Brad Sachs is a Challenge Success Advisory Council member, and is a psychologist, educator, consultant, and best-selling author specializing in clinical work with children, adolescents, couples, and families. He is also the Founder and Director of The Father Center, a program designed to meet the needs of new, expectant, and experienced fathers. www.drbradsachs.com