I have to admit that having a houseful of kids is
more than nostalgic. There is a natural ebb and
flow to family relations. Hence much the same
as at their birth, when one's offspring visit one
immediately slips into parenting mode. Yet this
time around, it's not the parent who is driving the
process - rather it's my daughter "M." Somehow
during the time she's been out of the nest she has
blossomed into an amazing parent, spouse, and
human being. Hence for the last two days I've
been watching her in action. And continuously
thanking God that she is part of my life. All as
I try to figure out how she turned out so well!
At some point we all have to grow up. Yet most
of us prefer to blame anybody but ourselves for
most of our problems. Therefore it's no wonder
that our parent's reputations get sullied in the
process. Frankly I made many mistakes in my
life - all of which obviously have had impact on
my children. However my intentions were only
good. In saying that I'm not trying to defend my
actions, nor request absolution. Rather I simply
want to put the past in context. You see, few if
any parents purposefully set out to screw up their
children. And in that process we do the best we
can do given the circumstances.
You can't blame us for trying. Yet that's exactly
what many adults do for the rest of their lives.
Most of my generation spent a fortune trying
to get some therapists to confirm their parental
conspiracy theories. Sadly, parenthood doesn't
come with an owners manual. Hence like it or
not, raising a child is an exercise in trial and
error. Some are better at it than others. Few
intend to cause long term collateral damage.
Given life ends in an exercise in role reversal,
it's fruitless to try and transfer responsibility
for our failures. That's because someday our
kid's kids will blame them for their mistakes.
Who's in charge?
Achieving maturity is a power struggle. As each
of us develops, at some point our parents must
hand over control. However when, where, and
how said transfer of responsibility occurs differs
based on those involved. If I've learned anything
in life it's that most children want and need some
limitations. Thus the only way to truly be a great
parent is to learn when and how to say "NO."
Once proper guardrails are established, most
children thrive within such limited constraints.
Ultimately pushing the boundaries to suit their
needs. Thus parenting definitely is a give and
take proposition fraught with chances for error.
Share and share alike
Some of us are better at this than others. Frankly
I'm amazed at my daughter "M" and son-in-law
"D's" parenting skills. First of all they definitely
share the responsibility. Both are equal partners
in the establishment, implementation, and most
important enforcement of parental guidelines.
Such a secure base of power means that even at
almost two years old - my grandson "H" knows
exactly who's in charge. And while I'm certain
that at some point he will more than test their
patience, I've no doubt that they will somehow
figure it out together. Which is exactly the same
way our generation tried to rule our roosts.
I understand why some of you are still angry
about things long past. Apologies aside, most
parents deeply regret any errors in their ways.
However at some point we all must move on.
The good news is that as we age, parents and
children can become friends and colleagues.
Inevitably there is a shift of power over to
the younger generation. And while some of
you disenfranchised children may relish the
idea of retribution - rarely does said payback
pay out. That's because ultimately we figure
each other out. And see each other for who
we really are. Whether we like "us" or not.