Mum’s dilemma

Two teenagers. Two boys. What will make them happy in life?

Two teenagers. Two boys. What will make them happy in life?

By Natasa Kocevar Gabric

I’m a mum of two. Two teenagers. Boys. Endless questions have been going through my mind regarding their upbringing since they were born. As the time of their leaving the nest  is approaching I keep asking myself: Did I teach them to see what is important in life? Was I successful about their upbringing?

I will know that when I see them happy taking care of themselves.

The other day I read an interview with a Slovenian psychologist who talked about the upbringing of the kids in today’s world. She is 79 years old and she spent her life working in the field of children’s psychology. Today she claims she doesn’t know what are the qualities that will make our children live a happy life in this world of ours. She is a professional and she doesn’t know. How should I?

Every parent regularly asks herself if the decisions she made regarding the upbringing of her kids are the right ones. When a child reacts the way the parents aren’t expecting, they can’t help themselves but think: “What did we do that makes him behave like that?” Many other occasions offer the opportunity to doubt. And one of the most concerning is the one when you watch your child having trouble to find his way. I know I have to let him find his way… But I would really like to tell him where to go, what to do…

Life is beautiful. But the world is tough today. Every now and then I ask myself: “What is better – to have a child who is kind to everybody, who can feel the empathy and who helps people when they are in trouble or to have a child who knows how to compete with the others in order to make sure he is safe in this world?” I’m pretty much sure that a child who is empathetic cannot have these two qualities. They are not compatible.

The dilemma has been hanging over my head since my children were born. All I wanted for them was to be happy. But what will make them happy? Is it enough to be surrounded by people who love you and treat you with respect? Or is it better to feel the security money can give you? Will they be happy if they win the game? Or will they feel better if they help others to feel comfortable?

Natasa1 2

Natasa Kocevar Gabric: “Life is beautiful. One just has to find the sparkle…”

The most beautiful moments in my life are those which offered me the possibility to see my children were growing up. I helped them overcome the small difficulties. I helped them with their homeworks. I helped them to overcome the difficulties they were facing when certain relationships made them feel uncomfortable. I tried to show them life is beautiful.

One just has to find the sparkle that makes it like that. “What is important in life is to recognize these little things that make you see ‘la vie en rose’,” is what I have been saying. And also: “It’s up to you how you will live. It’s nobody else’s fault. It’s never somebody else’s fault. You have to depend on you. But I’m here if you want to talk about it.”

My sons are 19 and 15. This is a difficult period. Not difficult because they would be some difficult teenagers. In fact they are not. It is difficult because at this age they have to make the decisions for themselves regarding some really important matters. If only I could continue to do that for them! It would be so easy! Very often I have to restrain myself from deciding what they would like to do or what would be the proper thing to do for them. Gosh, is it difficult!

When we are talking I still feel the obligation to try to explain what I would do. And I have to do it very carefully to give enough space for their own reflections. Of course I’m happy when they go on the way I would go. But again, there’s always a doubt: “Did he decide that because I wanted so?” I wouldn’t like that.

My heart sings when I see they respect me and my ideas, but I really don’t want them to live their life the way that suits me. This is the hardest part. I know that there are many different ways to live one’s life and mine is the best for me. Not for my sons.

Every day they come to different crossroads where they have to choose a direction. Sometimes it’s the one that leads them directly to where they want to be. Sometimes the path is not simple. They go left instead of right. They get lost sometimes. And they have to work really hard to get where they want to be. But it makes them stronger.

I wish my children would be sensible enough to make this world better. But this is my wish. In reality all I want for them is to be happy.

Being a mother is a hard job. There’s no guarantee that you choose the right way. That’s what they say. But isn’t there? In my opinion the right way is when the mum follows her own instinct. It can’t be wrong! The kid grew up out of her. She must feel what is right for him.

Being a mother is wonderful. It’s such a joy! But it’s also a lot of worries. I can’t deny that. Luckily there’s always a rainbow coming out after the rain.

Slovenian rainbow

Slovenian rainbow

I still have some years in front of me before I will be able to see if my husband and I were succeSsful in this most important role in our life. We followed our instinct. I can say our boys are kind and reasonable. They have a big heart. Will it be enough to make them happy?

Natasa says: “I’m a Slovenian woman of 49. I work in automotive industry, which means hard work every day in mostly men’s world. It’s not easy, but it’s interesting, which is very important to me. But what I like most is spending time with my family. Cooking, cycling, traveling together or just talking. Since my sons are teenagers, such moments are not on the menu every day. But when they are, I just love it!”

Tomorrow: “Telling our truth by sharing our stories” by Angela K. Rider

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6 thoughts on “Mum’s dilemma

  1. “My heart sings when I see they respect me and my ideas, but I really don’t want them to live their life the way that suits me.”
    Wow, looks like you have already found the secret of successful parenting! This is very thoughtfully written and sounds like you are a wonderful parent.
    My gut feeling is that it’s important for kids to be busy, but, in the end, definitely empathy wins. Als, finding a way to get centered whether it’s meditation or running or something else, because stress will always happen. I think when you raise kids that are healthy and emotionally well-adjusted everything falls into place. They will actually be better equipped to deal with a competitive world. I guess it’s a fine balance and as one philosopher says “You never get it done and you are never wrong.”

    • Thank you for these encouraging words. I agree with your gut feeling… Completely. But I’m also sure that it all depends on the character of the child. As a young other I always thought the upbringing defines the way the children act. Nowadays, I’m pretty much sure that the importance of the upbringing is limited. It provides the base which is than moulded by many other factors. But still, if the base is fine… 🙂

  2. Parenting is a hard job and too many parents don’t put parenting first. It sounds like you work hard to be a good Mum and it sounds like you are succeeding! I am not sure we ever get “done” parenting, though, and I will share with you that I have found parenting adult children to be even harder in some ways … I spend a lot of time biting my tongue these days with my now 38-year-old daughter! I have a feeling your sons will be fine with the foundation you provided. 🙂

    • Thank you, Lynn, for the encouraging comment. I believe, yes, that parenting is never done. But we must trust our children and it’s a lot of work on us. I mean, they are grown up, they must live their truth. I know it’s easy to tell… My mum always said: small children – small problems, big children – bigger problems. In fact I find it’s kind of true. At least partly – the problems might not be big, but the worries are much more preoccupying.

  3. Fellow mother of boys says I get the hope and the wonder and the fine line!
    You write: “When we are talking I still feel the obligation to try to explain what I would do.”
    I bet you anything they dig that, even if they don’t agree with that “what I would do.” Keep up the good work.

  4. I wonder if this is really a dilemma of life being more challenging in our time? Maybe life has always had it’s challenges, and if it is the pressure we put on ourselves for the outcomes of our children that is the new part.

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