A Few Words on Parenting

This is another topic suggested by a friend.  This is another topic I would never have chosen on my own, and there are a lot of different directions I can go.  So, I’ll start from the beginning.  My beginning.

I was an accident.  A teenage girl and a teenage boy had unprotected sex, and later on, I came into the world.  We all know how that works.  But knowing I was an accident had a profound impact on me.  It shaped my feelings about sex and parenting.  Fear of producing an unexpected child kept me celibate even more than my religious beliefs.

You can’t choose your biological parents, but your parents can choose you.  My biological mother wasn’t ever really in my life.  I’ve never met my biological father.  The people I think of as Mom and Dad adopted me, and made sure I felt chosen at an early age.  That is the first lesson in parenting that they gave me: make sure your children feel not just loved, but chosen.

My parents weren’t perfect parents.  I can go into their faults, but that doesn’t seem important right now.  I learned from their mistakes and tried to be a better parent by not copying them.  For example, I wasn’t an alcoholic.  I tried not to hit my kids beyond a certain age.  I made sure never to call my kids names like “idiot” or “stupid.” I tried to make it to all of their school functions.

One of the lessons I learned from my parents about parenting was that I was going to make mistakes, and there wasn’t anything I could do to avoid that.  Kids are more durable than we give them credit for.  We make mistakes, shape our kids in ways we didn’t expect, and then we have to hope for the best.

Parenting is a journey.  We start with babies that need everything, and our role as parent is to do everything for them.  Then our babies turn into kids, then into young adults, and before we know it, they’re grown adults.  We never stop being parents, but our responsibilities shift.  Every step of the way, we have to learn to let go as our children grow and stand on their own.  That’s a tall order for some parents.  None of us want our children to fall and get hurt.

My kids are adults now.  In some ways, they’ve had more life experiences now than I had when I was their age.  In other ways, they’re less worldly.

There are things that we can’t teach our children.  We can try.  We can throw words at them and hope that some get through.  But with subjects like responsibility and ambition, words don’t do enough.  My kids have to learn to be responsible and drive themselves the same way I did.  It doesn’t matter how many opportunities I try to give them.  There are things they won’t learn any other way but the hard way.  That’s been a part of this parenting journey that I’ve really struggled with.

I’m proud of both my children.  Melissa and I made really good people.  The world is a better place because they are in the world.

That’s all I can really say about parenting.  There is no single answer.  The best we can do is love our children, listen to them, and listen to our hearts.  What worked for my kids probably won’t work for someone else’s kids.  We’re all different.  As children, as parents, we’re just fumbling our way forward, trying not to break too many things along the way.

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