“Youth can not know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it is to be young.” — Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Turning to J.K. Rowling’s wonderful world of witchcraft, wizardry, and unwavering morality in times of parenting distress can often be more helpful than you might expect. The above quote takes place after Dumbledore, the impossibly wise headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, admits his grievous error in trying to shield Harry from hardships. As the quote suggests, age forgets youth, a much bigger sin than youth failing to grasp the wisdom of age.
This happens in parenting nearly every day. Parents become accustomed to adultness, and whether through oversight or lack of patience, they forget the trials and tribulations that their children face all the time. Look at life from your children’s perspective once more and you might rediscover a few important lessons you lost on your way to adulthood.
Kids get sick. A lot
When you are a fully fledged adult with a kick-butt immune system, getting sick is either a total catastrophe or something you just have to suffer through until it passes. No matter what, getting sick is a rare occurrence, happening roughly twice to four times yearly. The average child, on the other hand, catches between six and 10 colds every year. Young kids are especially susceptible, and sometimes it seems like they are just perpetually sick.
Be prepared with plenty of honey & lemon, tissues, and quiet activities to hand.
Everything is a big deal
From the moment your beautiful baby is born, they are assaulted with noises, colors, smells, and all sorts of sensations that they are literally experiencing for the first time. A childhood development study suggests that experiences in the first three years of a child’s life can affect them well into their thirties. The good things are unbelievably, mind-blowingly fantastic, but the bad things… For developing minds, each experience is precious, beautiful, and often terrifying. There is little room for moderation.
You can help your child work through this, and teach them how to handle those difficult emotions. Let them know that their feelings are valid and that it is reasonable to be upset, or excited. Then let them know that while the emotion is appropriate, the level of emotion is not. Talk through how they are feeling and help them learn what a more appropriate amount of emotion would be.
Homework does suck
As your children enter school (home, public, or private), they will have to do assignments. Why can’t they play soccer outside like the other 25 million kids? Think back to your early education. You probably wanted to be somewhere else too.
Your advice is dumb
As your baby becomes your goofy toddler, becomes your active scamp, becomes your irritable teen, you will undoubtedly hear some choice words about your parental advice. When you were young, you obviously felt the same way about your parents’ advice too. It is the natural way of things. But why?
The scientific explanation involves many neurological studies and scientific data about brain development. A more accessible approach to the teenage brain is to think about what it’s like to learn from a mistake. In order to do this, one must first make a mistake. You might forget over time that your wisdom comes not from your parents’ advice at the time, but from reflecting on that advice after having made the exact mistake they warned you against.
Children are born into a world of pain and joy, emotions they have yet to form words to even attempt describing. They then have new experiences thrown at them like warp speed dodgeballs they cannot dodge. Once they settle into those experiences, the need to know Why? begins. Once they realize that nobody knows why anything happens, they then settle into the emotional rollercoaster of puberty where they start to learn for themselves through a series of embarrassing mistakes. This is what being a kid tossed through the whirlwind of life is like. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to deal with all of that anymore?