Life lessons from Saint Patrick
I woke up this morning and dutifully donned on my green shirt to go to the gym. This is Saint Patrick’s Day after all. Those of us who wore green were proud of ourselves that we remembered and were ready to pinch those who didn’t. On the way back home, I thought to myself, why do we celebrate St Patrick ’s Day, and wondered how many people like me, just wore green because we are supposed to.
So for those who do not know, according to Wikipedia, St Patrick’s Day celebrates the official death date, of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron Saint of Ireland. It celebrates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and the traditions of the Irish people. St. Patrick is supposed to have used the three leaves of the Shamrock, to explain the trinity to the pagan Irish. We apparently wear green because it’s the color of Shamrocks and it’s featured in the Irish flag and is the color of spring. Wow! That was quite an education for me.
So for us as parents, there is much to learn. Do we follow customs and traditions blindly or do we take the time to educate ourselves?
1. “Because I said so.”
How many of us find ourselves saying that to our children, even our young children, when they ask us why we are asking them to do something? This is actually very ineffective parenting. Because I said so instills more fear than respect, and once the fear is removed and you are not present, children and teens will do exactly the opposite of what you expect them to do, because you didn’t take the time to explain the “why” to them.
2. Following blindly
There are so many parents, who basically do what their friends are doing simply because someone else is doing it. People buy homes in certain areas because that is the thing to do or because a friend said the school district was good. Some parents never take the time to verify things for themselves. They expect their children to do certain courses in school and go to this college, but they don’t find out what their child’s strengths are or what they excel in. Teens are forced into sports to get the sports scholarship and some teens have no interest what so ever in the sport. I admit it, I’ve been guilty of this. Rather than just following blindly, take the time to get to know your teen. Find out their strengths, and nurture them and bring out the best in them. We advise our teens not to follow their friends blindly and we need to do the same.
3. Living our Dream
The story goes that whilst St. Patrick was in captivity by the Irish Raider’s he became a devout Christian and after escaping to England, he heard the voice of God telling him to go back to Ireland as a missionary to convert the Irish to Christianity. He was sixteen when he was introduced to Christianity. I marvel at the courage of a sixteen year old and the faith that led him back to Ireland at such a tender age, to do what he had been instructed to do. That is amazing to me. I think of how many of us as adults, question our own dreams and even question our teen’s dreams. We look at all the “facts” and dutifully explain to our teens why their dreams are impossible. And truly, some of them may be. But we need to increase our own faith and belief. Sometimes the limitations we face in life are only in our own heads and often we hand these limitations down to our teens. We should encourage our teens to aim for the skies. I believe in being realistic, but if you only do what you can achieve with your own strength, then you are living below your potential, and we need to learn to challenge ourselves and our teens to excel.
4. Celebrating customs
I love celebrating customs, especially when I know why I’m celebrating and we should encourage our children to do the same. It’s all about creating memories and some of these customs even become family traditions. Unfortunately some people use these customs as an excuse to misbehave and disturb the general peace. So even as we celebrate Saint Patrick’s day, we should do so respectfully, bearing in mind the real reason why we are celebrating. We can make meaningful traditions out of it for ourselves and perhaps talk to our teens about our faith and why we do things the way we do. That goes a long way towards maintaining those traditions.
So even as I wish you a happy and safe St. Patrick’s day, explain why we celebrate St. Patrick’s day to your teens, celebrate, but not in excess, encourage your teens to live their dreams and their best lives always and I wish you this Irish Blessing,
“May your blessings outnumber the Shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.”