Dee Dee Meyers: Enough For Me (On Parenthood)

Vintage Illustration By Disney Artist Mary Blair

When my daughter was just shy of her first birthday, we joined a toddler class. Every week, a dozen or so parents and the instructor would quietly observe the children, in an effort to raise “authentic” and “competent” human beings, with a minimum of intervention.

One afternoon, a little boy toppled off a slide and began to cry. His startled father hugged the child and said in a comforting tone, “You’re all right.” A moment passed. Then the instructor said, “Children don’t cry when they’re all right.”  It seemed harsh at the time. But I soon realized that it wasn’t empathy that was being discouraged; it was telling even a small child what he was supposed to feel.

Each week, the instructor would prepare a snack area on the floor. If a child wanted bananas and juice, he or she had to put aside the toys, sit down, and put on a bib. It was totally optional. But there were requirements. And it was astonishing to watch as these tiny children made their choices. Some went in for the snack in the first or second week. Others took longer. All of them got there eventually.

I’ll never forget how I felt the first time my daughter had the snack. Crazy as it sounds, I was really moved by her little act of independence and the obvious satisfaction it gave her.  Now, as my children near adolescence, I try to remember that I can guide them, but I can’t tell them what to think or feel. I can try to teach them to make good choices, but ultimately, they must be trusted to choose. And if they know what they want – if they can learn to recognize that special light inside themselves–and if they are brave enough to follow it–they will be satisfied.

And that will be enough for me.”

–Dee Dee Myers (the first woman to serve as the White House Press Secretary)

To read more from Dee Dee, Pick up her memoir, Why Women Should Rule The World.

I discovered this wonderful piece of writing in Jewels of Elul. Definitely check it out.

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2 Responses to Dee Dee Meyers: Enough For Me (On Parenthood)

  1. gary ponzo says:

    And when they tell you they don’t need to study for the test, you tell them they’re not going to get a good job when they grow up and they say, “Who cares, I’m nine.” Then what? Suddenly that independence thing turns into a monster and you wish you could cradle them in your arms again and give them subliminal messages–“Study . . . . Study . . .”

  2. Gretta says:

    I can’t imagine it is at all bad for a parent to want their child to feel safe in their arms. I think it’s inappropriate not to encourage that. Maybe that child wasn’t “alright” until he was in his father’s arms. There is nothing wrong with raising your children to depend on you. They must, they cannot survive without you. Your children trusting you and depending on you is a good thing. The more we can encourage that the better. –In my humble opinion.

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