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?