As parents we get to experience the joy of many firsts…our child’s first smile, first laugh, first steps, first temper tantrum, first day of school, first time putting her head under water in the pool, first friendship, first date, first breakup, first day of college, and on and on. Today we could share an historic first with our kids: the inauguration of the first black president.
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or political agnostic, today will be a landmark in our lifetime. Obama’s presidency will be a lot like the firsts we share with our children. Today’s excitement will be tempered by the reality that can’t help but follow and will undoubtedly disappoint us at times. As parents, we relish the firsts and love and support through the missteps and this presidency will be no different. President Obama will err to be sure but how he manages and recovers from his mistakes will determine the success of his presidency.
When each child is born, he or she is the vessel for all of our parental hopes and dreams but within a few minutes, or hours, or days, the child asserts her personality and our hopes and dreams adjust. We have influence over our children but cannot make decisions for them. When they make good choices, we can praise and congratulate them and when they make bad ones, we can show them the error of their ways and hold them close.
President Obama will have the burden and blessing of great expectations. Let’s hope that he makes more good choices than bad. Let’s hope that the mistakes he makes are fixable.
Since I was 7 years old I have watched each inauguration. I have always been a patriotic sap and whether the incoming president represented my world view or not, the truly awesome experience of watching such a peaceful transfer of power amazes me to this day. I remember well when Ronald Reagan took office and gave his first inaugural speech, I was crying because I was a Carter supporter and my parents helped me see that what makes our nation great is this democratic process, even when we disagree with the outcome. A wonderful lesson learned.
Share the inauguration, the historic day, and your hopes or challenges for the new President with your children and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center