What every child needs from their parents

A little while ago, I came across an exercise in a podcast for those feeling a little lost in life and in need of some direction:

Ask five people close to you what they think you’re good at/what attributes came to mind when they think of you.

The idea being that the people closest to you see things in you that you don’t see yourself.

Now I wasn’t feeling lost at the time, but I was curious to see if the people closest to me saw positives in me that I wasn’t seeing (it’s an INFJ thing ok?!). So I asked five people the question, and one of those was my mum.

Here’s what my mum said:

I’ve always admired how you decide to undertake something and then work at it until you succeed with no push or help from anyone else.

Now that was truly lovely to hear, but here’s what Mum doesn’t realise.

There are two reasons why I’ve always been able to set my sights on something, and then go after it:

  1. My parents never placed any limitations on us (their kids). My siblings all agree that, through their actions and words, my parents raised us to believe we could and should go after anything we thought worthwhile.
  2. Success, failure and everything in-between – we kids have always been completely secure in the knowledge that our parents have our backs. Success would be met with happiness and pride. Failure would be met with ‘well done for giving it a go’. The stuff in-between would be met with ‘ok, let’s figure how to tackle this issue’.

Is there a greater gift for a child than to know their parents always have their back?

To know they will be there, not just to celebrate the good times, but also to prop you up without censure when things don’t go so well? And when I say ‘prop you up’ I don’t mean ‘swoop in and save the day.’ No, I mean ‘give advice and help you figure things out.’

I’ve failed at many more things than I’ve been successful at. But thanks to the unconditional support I’ve always had from my parents (and now also have from my husband and his family) I’m secure in my ability to fail fast and move on ever faster.

As the wonderful Erin Hansen articulates so beautifully here, there is HUGE freedom in this!


And it’s a huge thrill to be able to pass this gift on to my own kids: the gift of being able reach for the stars, safe in the knowledge that we’ll be so thrilled for them if they succeed, but if they don’t, my arms will be there to soften the landing when they fall.

What has been the greatest gift your parents haven given to you?