GUEST BLOG: The Art of Parenting Joyfully by Allen Klein, MA, CSP
Several years ago, I went back to Hunter College, in New York City, to celebrate my 50th anniversary of having graduated from that great school. One of the people I remember meeting that day was Bel Kaufman, author of Up the Down Staircase. I still recall the twinkle in her eye and the joy she had attending that event. I’m not sure how old she was at the time, but I just read that she is currently 102-years-old.
I bring up her name because in writing this guest blog that focuses on the quotations related to families, from my book The Art of Living Joyfully: How to be Happier Every Day of the Year, I found one of Kaufman’s that I didn’t realize was there. It is about children. She wisely remarked, “Children are the true connoisseurs. What’s precious to them has no price—only value.”
Children are not only experts on what is truly valuable, but they can also be our greatest teachers. As novelist Arnold Bennett reminds us, “The parents exist to teach the child, but also they must learn what the child has to teach them; and the child has a very great deal to teach them.”
The comedian Paula Poundstone humorously reminds us of this too when she jokes, “Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up—’cause they’re looking for ideas.”
I recall when my daughter was a teenager and taught me a great lesson. I was furiously working on a deadline writing my first book, The Healing Power of Humor. It seemed like every time I would start to get into some good writing, Sarah, my daughter, would come in my office and interrupt me with some silly question or comment. After this happened several times, I closed my office door and put a sign on it stating: “Do Not Disturb Unless It Is An Emergency”.
About 15-minutes after posting the sign, there was a knock on the door. Furious, I shouted, “Sarah, what do you want? Is this an emergency?”
“Yes,” she replied meekly.
Opening the door, I exploded, “What’s the emergency?”
Sarah looked at me and quietly said, “I forgot to tell you I love you.”
Looking back, the interesting thing about this story for me is that I was writing about humor, yet I was way too serious. It took my young teenage daughter to show me that I needed to lighten up.
And that leads me to another quotation that fits so well with the above story. Columnist George Will reminds us that, “We are given children to test us and make us more spiritual.” How true. My daughter still reminds me every time I see her to laugh more and be more loving.
Speaking of what we can learn from our children, I am particularly fond of the wise words of theologian Conrad Hyers. He says, “Children have a remarkable talent for not taking the adult world with the kind of respect we are so confident it ought to be given. To the irritation of authority figures of all sorts, children expend considerable energy in ‘clowning around.’ They refuse to appreciate the gravity of our monumental concerns, while we forget that if we were to become more like children our concerns might not be so monumental.”
Not only must we remember what great lessons children can teach us but also how important you are in being a parent to a child. Three quotations address that. The first is a Jewish saying wisely telling us that, “God could not be everywhere, therefore he made mothers.”
The second asks us to take time to remember the pleasures of parenthood. Having a beautiful daughter, who is forty-six-years old, I sometimes wonder where the time went and how she grew up so fast. “Parents are often so busy,” says author Marcelene Cox, “with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves.”
And finally, whether you are a young mother or one who has come to give birth later in life author Jill Churchill notes, “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
Hopefully the quotations above will help you be a good, loving and caring mom.
About the author:
Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Allen Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.” Klein is the world’s only “Jollytologist,” a professional keynote speaker, and author of 19 books that have sold over 600,000 copies. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, a Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association, a Toastmaster’s Communication and Leadership Award, and a Hall of Fame honoree from Hunter College; The City University of New York. More information about Klein and his work can be found at www.allenklein.com
The Art of Living Joyfully: How to Be Happier Every Day of the Year is available in three formats (paperback, ebook, audiobook) at http://tinyurl.com/kbwn8bf