In last week’s blogpost, I mentioned the difficulty I experienced adjusting to our family’s move from New York to Ohio. I really hated living in Ohio! I can laugh about it now…but in looking back I know that the move was for the best. As an adult, and as a parent, I’ve come to understand the many benefits behind the move and the fact that decisions were made to strive for the best life for us.
When I think about all of the tough moves and decisions my parents made to provide the best they could for my brother and me, I didn’t appreciate or like them at the time. Now that I’m a parent, I’m reminded that whatever decisions made for my son’s benefit, he may not now understand or appreciate, but he will someday when he looks back…just like I did – or at least I hope he does.
Isn’t it funny how we look back on some of the things our parents did and said, and as parents, we find ourselves doing some of the same things? Especially as a teenager, when you think you knew everything – our parents would say certain things and we’d look at them like “Whatever!” or “What are you talking about???” And then we begin “adulting” and having our own children and just like that – we get it. That Aha moment that makes you smile and shake your head slowly at the realization.
I posted a question to my Facebook friends once that asked, “How old were you when you realized your parents were right?” Most commented that they were well into their 30’s or 40’s before it all clicked. That’s interesting, isn’t it? Many of my peers are parents of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings (I started late so my son is in his late teens). But no matter what, as parents, we wonder if our children will ever “get it” – even those who have finished school, have jobs or careers, children of their own, deep voices and beards…you name it; they look mature, so why hasn’t it clicked? Well, my Facebook post respondents answer the question; all will not fall into place until later in life, if at all…
But that doesn’t mean you stop guiding and teaching and advising and being there for support because you don’t think they get it. Or they say, “I’m grown now, I don’t need your advice!” You never stop. Because even after they get it, there is still much to be learned from our wisdom; especially since a lot of us are still learning too! And I don’t want to even count how many times I learned something new from my child or my interaction with him! Your children can always benefit from your knowledge and I believe there’s never a time that you are done parenting.
Children don’t come with how-to manuals. There’s no blueprint or particular “way” to parent, no matter what the pundits and psychologists say. It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child or children become productive citizens in the world. If they leave the house to go off to college and out on their own and they don’t know how to do laundry – guess what? They’ll learn! Many are the lessons borne out of necessity. It’s like when they were tots and you said “don’t touch the stove, it’s hot!” Some inquisitive little kid is going to touch it anyway to see what “hot” feels like – and that’s how they find out that “hot” ain’t nothing to play with!
As parents, we make decisions for our children that may not turn out quite right. But with a lot of prayer, and drawing on what your parents did (or didn’t do for that matter), you’ll do alright. Let them learn some things on their own, let them bump their heads sometimes, let them figure it out (they’ve got Google for gosh’s sakes – something we didn’t have!). Never stop guiding them on the straight and narrow; nudging them back on path here and there. Show them love and appreciation. Be lovingly critical. Give them lots of hugs and turn them over to God and the Universe and they’ll be fine.