I would like to meet Rudyard Kipling and his parents to quiz them on the inspiration for the poem ‘If’ and how the hell you parent a child to have all the 13 ‘if’ qualities. Of course a lot of parenting is through setting an example – that is where me and my husband fall at the first hurdle. After overcoming the marathon that is bed-time and my 7 year old daughter and I once again having a fall-out because we both threw a tantrum (I agree at 33 I should have outgrown these by now), my husband and I had a ‘so how is this parenting thing going?’ talk. We discussed the problems we had been experiencing with my daughter and it didn’t take us long to spin the pointy finger around from her to us. Our stressed out busy lives are clashing with hers, leaving nothing in reserve to cope with her playground issues and tantrums – which are just as important as the issues we face, because let’s face it, life is one giant playground.
As a parent you also don’t want to say anything that will jeopardise your child’s self-esteem, confidence and resilience. I was tired and angry with a tantrum she threw earlier so I matched it with a tantrum of my own saying ‘I don’t want to hear anymore issues with friends you just have to get on with it’. Now I am worried she will now suffer in silence – what an idiotic thing for me to say.
Going back to the positive discipline approach, it is wrong to use pain shame or blame to undermine your child when you are upset with their behaviour, but it appears I have slipped into that negative knee-jerk reaction trap.
So, I turn to the IF poem to get myself back on track and hope that in attempting to emulate some of the qualities I can hope to raise a child that is a little more level-headed than myself…and hopefully just that little bit happier….
IF, Rudyard Kipling
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
And an amazing daughter too (Tom Marter)
I am blogging every day for Unicef. I am getting near e the 100 pounds goal – see here.
Thanks for reading.