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June 19 • 06:28 AM
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Know the questions more than answers


March 07, 2018
Writer's note: The next few Perspective columns somehow survived the last quarter century or so—from back when I was immersed in parenting.

"Some people have all the answers," I mused as I watched the confident-looking young parents across from me in the sunken rest area of the mall. "So together, so sure of themselves as they discipline their three-year-old. They seem to have no doubt about the method or effectiveness of their parenting skills."

While their child meekly fell in with their plan I watched my own—same age, same gender—as he chomped at the bit and tried me. And a question nagged at me. "Were they wiser? Was I failing?"

Then I turned back the pages of my mind. My husband and I had been married only a short time when I became pregnant with my first child, and I remember knowing all the answers back then too. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that we knew more about child-rearing than did our antiquated parents. It was almost as though our generation thought we had invented parenting. Kind of ironic, wasn't it?

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That was then. This is now. Funny what having a child when my others were almost grown has done to my perspective.

I looked back at the family across the way, so like ours had been back then. "Maybe that's as it should be." Brazen self-confidence. It gives each generation of parents the fresh courage and energy to take on responsibilities that will be theirs for a long time. Only after they have come to deeply love their child do they realize they really didn't have much of an idea what the questions were back when they had all the answers. And by then they're bound by love to finish the job.

And if, by some stroke of luck or Providence, as I choose to believe—you're given another go-round at parenting, your by then rather mutilated and battered self-confidence is supplemented by a third dimension called experience.

P.S. These vignettes on life have been collecting in my bottom drawer over the past several years. That's more obvious in some than others. My three-year-old is now 30 and having a baby. If and when you take on the role of parents you might as well benefit from all my years of experience and know now already that those of us who are older don't necessarily have all the answers (but we just MIGHT know more of the questions).

Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.
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