On being an Understanding Parent

pretty bullI was recently reminded of how much I have always loved the story of Ferdinand the Bull, by Munro Leaf.

In case you never have had the pleasure of reading it, it is a fable about a bull that liked to sit “just quietly” and smell the flowers. He was disrespected by all the other bulls. He is stung by a bee just when the bullring talent scouts come by, and reacts with a great display of ferocity. He is taken to the bullring and finds he is so distracted by flowers that he pays no attention to the matadors. His life is spared, and he returns to his quiet hilltop, and his mother.

The charm of this book is that it doesn’t hammer home the points it is making about being yourself, and about acceptance. The only real value judgement offered in the book is the praise given to the mother, who “was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow.” Because she has allowed her son to be who he is, his life is saved. And he is able to lead a joyful life.

I encourage you to get a copy of this book, and read it to yourself, and to your child, often to remind you that it is better to be an understanding parent than to be a parent who successfully fits their child into (all of) society’s expectations.

You can find a pdf to print out here (bonus: it’s also translated into Urdu) or you can watch the (admittedly very old-fashioned) cartoon here. You can even buy the book here for about $3.

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