Real Relationship Advice
We aren’t your average parents. We are those weirdoes with kids ranging in age from 19 to 5. For the first time in many years, two of our children are in the same school while one goes to school 3 states away. So, when we tell you we understand things about parenting, it comes from our experience with three kids, one who is multiply handicapped, and parenting through our 20s, 30s and 40s. Oh, and lest we forget, both of us have been teachers and one of us just happens to have a graduate degree in counseling and over 25 years of family therapy experience. Now, does all that mean we are perfect parents? Absolutely not! What it means is that we understand that no matter what we do, we will fail our children.
It is a hard pill to swallow when you come to the realization that your children will be disappointed in you some day. We do everything to the best of our abilities and we still manage to scar them. Let’s be very clear, we are speaking directly to the parents who love and respect their kids and do not engage in abuse of any kind and flagrant irresponsible acts as adults (DUI, alcoholism, adultery). We know that most parents will work hard to give their children everything they need to survive and work even harder to provide them with what will make them strive. However, the biggest issue our children will have with us, specifically as they get older, probably was something of which we were completely unaware.
Yes, many parents like to forget the time they left little Ambrosia at ballet an extra 20 minutes or the time that Bartholomew wanted to go to a friend’s house and you couldn’t because you didn’t feel well or just plain didn’t want to and they kept harping about it for weeks. We are talking about obscure instances where you promised your child something and didn’t quite deliver. These promises, which probably never even registered as a memory, are engrained in the psychic rotation of hurts that we carry with us. In fact, if you think really hard for a moment, you will remember your hurts that you recorded from your parents. Even when we are told what happened and what hurt them we usually will end up drawing a blank. This does not mean their pain is any less than or we are cruel by any means. This simply means that while we focused on something else our children were focused there little mental camera on one very specific thing. Our failure to follow through caused them pain.
The reality is parents are not perfect. We like to pretend we are. We pull out our super hero capes and fly off to kiss the booboos or right the wrongs in our children’s lives but ultimately our impervious façade will crack. And, when they find out we are not perfect, we will fail them.
This may seem disheartening but in reality it should relieve everyone. You don’t need to be perfect. You need to love them. Support them. Carry them. Keep our promises. But a day will come when those promises just can’t be kept. So, we forgive ourselves. Apologize for our broken promises and move on. Our kids will grow up some day and they will choose what to do with these psychic scars. Our job is to make sure we are around to talk to them and be stalwart supporters of our offspring. Anything less than that is a true failure.
Oh yes. Perfection is knowing that we are imperfect. I live by that motto because or else---well, that would just be bad. I try to tell my daughter this as well and highlight when I do something wrong so that she can start to understand that we do really all make mistakes.
Whenever I do something that my kids don't approve of, I tell them to write it down so they can tell their therapist some day. :)
One of the things I try SO hard to do is not make promises I can't keep. I know I will blow it and I probably already have. But I still love my parents so maybe there is hope for me yet :-)