Monday, June 2, 2008

Post No. 14: A Tribute to Mel's Mother

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

In my Article No. 6, entitled A Few Thoughts on the Qualifications for Parenthood, I raised some theoretical issues which a prospective parent, or a governmental entity regulating the conduct of parents, might consider in a carefully orchestrated, Utopian world. Of course, it was simply an intellectual exercise designed to stimulate thought.

However, during the course of writing the piece, I was reminded of an article written by Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times some years ago in the vicinity of Father’s Day. Morrison recounted a number of newsworthy stories about failures in parenting, and their unfortunate consequences. She then went on to thank her parents for being “normal.” Of course, she did not define normal, other than to say that whatever they did worked, and resulted in Morrison being a positive and productive member of society.

At the time that I read Morrison’s article, I thought about the various ways in which parents confront parenting issues. Parents can take affirmative action in certain regards, thus encouraging their children to explore the world outside the family. They can also take affirmative steps by placing restrictions on the conduct, or engage in protective or punitive conduct. They can also choose not to take action, or not respond to certain conduct on the part of their kids.

Morrison spoke of how we hear so much of the parents who fail, and so little about the successful ones. I thought of that Saturday when I received word from Mel, my friend of thirty years, that his 93 year old Mother had passed. In his brief, but eloquently worded message regarding his Mother, he noted, “Throughout her life the one attitude I never saw her manifest in anyway was "Why me?" Even during her darkest hours she was only able to see the many blessings God had given her.” That’s a pretty powerful statement for one to choose to describe the essence of one’s Mother.

I never met Mel’s Mother. However, I tried to envision who she was by thinking about Mel, and how his Mother’s influence must have had a significant and positive effect, on Mel, and who he is as a human being. In my workshops, I often describe the antithesis of Mel’s Mother’s attitude as the “victim mentality.” Lots of things come with thinking of oneself as a victim. Blame is inappropriately directed to others. One’s own responsibility is typically difficult to recognize. One’s functioning as an adult become problematic. Mel is none of these things. He’s just about one of the most responsible guys that you would ever want to meet. And there are some other positive attributes which Mel’s Mother obviously passed on to Mel, consisting of Mel’s irrepressible positive energy, his ability to laugh, his ability to appreciate the world outside of himself, his internal consistency, and his refusal to think negatively of others. I always felt that Mel was genuinely surprised at the dark side of humans, when he witnessed it.

By simply reflecting on this one brief statement by Mel, I realized the power that a parent can exert on a child, in a positive sense. Stop and think about that each time that you engage your children, or the children of others, and you are in the midst of anger, condemnation, jealousy, spite, or you feel that you have been treated unfairly or discriminated against. Take the higher ground, like Mel’s Mother. It will have far more positive, long term ramifications.

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

No comments:

Post a Comment

"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense should be a Way of Life"™

Opportunity to Serve as "Guest Author"

This forum was designed to be YOUR forum for the civil exchange of ideas by people with all points of views. We welcome the submission of articles by all of our readers, as long as they are in compliance with our Guidelines contained in Post No. 34. We look forward to receiving your submissions.