Monday, August 2, 2010

Shock, Embarrassment, Disappointment

Kahil Gibran says in his book, The Prophet,

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.

Do you agree?

What happens to a family when a child gets into trouble or controversy? It seems that no family (or extended family) is exempt. If you’re fortunate, the incident is limited to a call from a teacher or principal reporting a dispute between your child and another. Or perhaps your adult child has decided to drop out of college. You didn’t see it coming. It’s inconsistent with Susie’s or Johnnie’s personality and behavior. It’s a big deal for a while, but later, it’s not.

But what about the unexpected grandchild; or the drugs found in the car, followed with an arrest, misdemeanor charge, and court appearance? Hmmm…definitely life changing with consequences.

Are you still supporting Johnnie or Susie? Are you still letting them know that they can rectify their mistakes and live a good life?

How do you feel when Johnnie announces he’s gay, which may be a relief for him, but a problem for you? How about the semi-nude photos of Susie that have been made public?

What do you do when a major crime is committed, or a life is lost due to a suicide or drunk driving?

You’re shocked, embarrassed, distraught, angry, miserable, disappointed, and/or grievous. Are you wondering, “Where did I go wrong? What did I lack in raising my child?”

How do people treat you? Are you avoiding them, knowing that they are “talking about you,” criticizing you, and thinking that it’s your fault because you’re the parent?

My three children are still young - the oldest fourteen. I’m pleased to say that neither has shocked me, and pray they won’t. (Am I naïve?) I’ve heard many parents say, “Oh, I know they’re going to do it anyway.” Is a seed being planted with that statement?

We’re all human – somewhat fallible and susceptible to temptation. Hmmm…

I have friends, relatives, and neighbors who have experienced these episodes. I’ve seen the surprise grandbabies, the addiction to drugs, the jail sentence, and sadness of learning that a lesbian daughter does not want children – a grandchild for you.

I’ve seen it in all races, cultures, economic levels, education levels, and religions.

And while many will blame you - the parent, your friends will love you, know your heartache, and not judge you.

I’ve heard Oprah Winfrey quote Maya Angelo, who said, “We do the best we know how to do.”


To what degree do we “know” our children and their potential for trouble-free, successful futures?


Anonymous said...

You are posing great questions. Having raised 3 daughters, and not without worry and some grief, I feel lucky, blessed to have all of my girls grow into wonderful women. There are no roads without bumps, especially during the teen years.

I think the term "growing pains" covers both the child and the parent. However, I do know that quite often heartache turns into blessings because lessons learned from experiencing heartache of one kind or another are the greatest lessons in life.

Just Two Chicks said...

What a great blog and now I feel like a horrible parent ;)

I have very strong opinions and I guess I can attribute them to the fact that I do want what's best for my kids and their future, but I also want them to respect me, my life, and my future. Like my daughter telling me she needs to make her own mistakes. While I agree with her, any life changing mistake she's capable of making, she will be allowed to make when she can clean it up herself. I use her as the example because she's the one who at this point is giving us gray hair by continuing to lie to us and to use us. She's a great kid overall... but is taking herself down a path that is so opposite of the life we've shown her is possible... frustrating!

MissKris said...

No, as much as we THINK we know our children, we don't. As much as we think we can influence them, we can to a degree. But God gave us ALL a free will to make our life choices. We raised our children carefully...they will both tell you we were firm but fair. Our son at 18 went thru a year-and-a-half rebellious stage. It was just the mercy of the Lord he didn't end up getting killed, seriously. At least he was mature enough to tell us these were HIS choices and no reflection on how he was raised -- therein lies the 'free will'. Even so, many were the nites I'd lie awake praying for him until I'd hear him come in at 3...4...5 am. I am so thankful to be able to say he saw the 'error of his ways' and made them right. But he says now, at the age of almost 32, it was just something he had to get out of his system. I have no leg to stand on to 'judge' him, as my teen years
in the occult were my 'rebellion'. We live, we learn.

Anonymous said...

I was once the kid who disappointed my parents, got into drugs, hung with the wrong crowd, got into trouble with the law. I can only imagine the heartbreak I put my family through back then, and the guilt my mother must have felt, wondering where she went wrong.

But I turned out okay in the end. We each choose our own path, and we follow it wherever it leads. I would not be who I am today, if not for the bad choices I made so many years ago. I learned from my mistakes. I had to find my own way - no one could show me the way or tell me what to do, because I wasn't ready to hear it.

My parents were not responsible for my bad choices, and likewise I won't feel responsible for any bad choices my kids make. I have done my best to teach them right from wrong, I will do my best to guide them forward from here, and I'll always be there to help them pick up the pieces when things go wrong - but sometimes they'll have to fall before they learn. The learning part is up to them.

SuziCate said...

Excellent post. Yes, we do the best we know how. We can only give roots in our raising and pray that when they make the right choices and they learn to fly. I think most people worry about judgments of others when their kids make choices they aren't happy with. I have a friend who has experienced harsh judgment from fellow church goers as a result of her child's choices. I think it's wrong to judge or chastise the parents. They were and are very good people, and I think this sort of judgments points out who their "real" friends are. Those kind of times are when we should love and support one another. It's difficult to separate ourselves from our children and realize their choices, careers, etc... are not our decisions to make, though we do have their best interests at heart. As a parent of young adults who are now making their way into the world, I am here for love, support, and advice, but the choices are now up to them. I pray that they will make the ones God guides them to make. We've laid a foundation that we hope will stay in their minds and hearts and help lead them on the right path.

Unknown said...

Yes, I totally agree with the opening quote. The best thing we can teach our children is love and then let them discover themselves.

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Betty W said...

I agree, when you say "we plant a seed". I remember when my youngest was little, she was always falling down, or over something, or breaking something. We called her our "little klutz". Well it got only worse with her. Luckily someone pointed this out to me and we totally stopped calling her that. Things changed so much for the better. The same goes with helping the children decide what they want to be in life. You can watch them and see where their talents lie, and compliment them on that. They will become encouraged and follow the path you set for them.
Great post Anita!

Buckeroomama said...

We do what we can to ensure that our children are equipped with everything (as much as we can possibly provide --not just materially, but also spiritual and emotional support) during their years at home and hope that once they are out there, they are sufficiently armed to take on 'life' with the values and everything else that they have. We just pray that we "do right by them" and instill the right values and help them acquire the wisdom they need to see them through life.

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

Well, since none of my family know I post here I'm spilling my guts. I have had to witness at least two of my grown daughters make some very bad decisions-despite my warnings,
talking till I was red in the face and down-right pleading-regarding relationships. They suffered terribly and it upset the entire family. I tried my very best to guide them and still-they had major failures. Actually we are going through one of the major failures now. The older one learned from her mistakes and is now successful. All I can do for the current crisis is be there when she needs a friend, listen, try to give advice and pray, pray,pray. It is so frustrating to see all the pain when you feel it is so unnecessary and could have been avoided...but...but...I guess in the end- God knows what is best for her and what road she needs to take. We can only continue to give guidance and encouragement. Train up a child in the way he should go and in the end, he will not depart from it. I hang on to that...

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Abby said...

I just try to set a good example. I do agree that my kids are not "mine". They definitely are individuals. I just want them to understand that their actions effect others, whether good or bad.

(Then I remember some of the stupid things I did.... best that they don't know!)

Menopausal New Mom said...

Well Anita, you've given me plenty to think about with this post. I think for the most part, I'm just going to do the best that I can for our daughter who is now 4 and hang on for dear life! I'm expecting it to be quite a ride but at my age, I'm hoping I'm prepared for the many bumps in the road ahead.

yonca said...

The best thing I can give my son is love and teach how to love. He will make his own choices, mistakes..
His life is belongs to him.
Have a great weekend Anita!

Unknown said...

Both of my daughters are grown up now and have turned out to be beautiful, well rounded women. I hoped and prayed that they would always make sound and good choices in their lives. But, I do believe that parenting also has a whole lot to do with it. There are times when the communication is lacking and then, someone asks, "Why didn't she tell me she was feeling this way?" The answer is, "She didn't feel safe or didn't feel like you would listen." I tried my best to always keep a listening ear for my girls.

Bring Pretty Back said...

What a great post,

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

I'm with Gibran on this. It's our job to give children roots and wings, but they belong to God and His world.

Just about every child does something questionable, or in poor judgment, or stupid, or illegal when they're growing up. The teens and early twenties can be riddled with these things and parents will be left blissfully in the dark much of the time. It doesn't mean it's not happening. It only means the kids are not getting caught.

Once they're out on their own and they get together to reminisce about growing and dad hear about some of these events for the first time, it can literally curl their hair.

Were you any different? Were your friends?

I don't believe it means the kids were bad...just stupid...and normal.

Unknown said...

Such a deep issue to think about. I just try to remember that we are all fallable. I mean, heaven only knows how many mistakes I have made in my life. I just pray God gives my son the strength and wisdom to handle life. And I know, without a doubt, there is nothing he could ever do to make me stop loving him.