But you might think – why can’t they?
It doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t make a lick of difference.
You’re in control of facilitating change. And redirecting the narrative. Only you have the power to break what’s cyclical, or what’s been held as normal. Only you are responsible for changing.
I’ve been parenting now for nearly twenty years. I ain’t great at a lot of things, but I’m a fucking awesome Mom.
I saw what was lacking in my life, and what I felt had been neglected. And I finally learned a deep lesson – only I was responsible for changing, if that’s what I wanted or needed. Only I was responsible for seeing the change I wanted, or needed.
And it came through setting a precedent. Making a new routine. Designing a path and following it through in the way that worked for us.
I read once that “tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.” The absolute same can go from generational habits, or behavior. For example, you may be accustomed to waiting for the entire table to be sitting – including the host – before anyone takes a bite of their dinner. Others may not worry. How about remembering to bring a gift to the host when you’re invited over? Or taking your shoes off at the front door?
Let’s go deeper. Maybe you remember seeing your parents call their parents, and catch up at least weekly, if not more. Or you remember that every Sunday you were at your grandparent’s house after Church. Or you congregated for Sunday night dinners. Maybe you remember a richly innate and well-seeded family built on roots and support.
Maybe, you didn’t.
Maybe you only had parties for “bench mark” birthdays (the big ones, like 10 & 14, & 16). Maybe you only visited your grandparents at Christmas. Or you were stuck going to Church on Sundays because you had to, not because you wanted to, or because you understood. Maybe your parents didn’t meet your friends’ parents because they didn’t want to, or didn’t care, or had a set of their own friends and simply didn’t have time to meet another social circle. Maybe you grew up afraid to ask for favours, because you knew you’d owe them back. Or you were afraid to complain, because you were confident they’d stop calling, or stop asking about you because you annoyed them so often with your neediness.
Whichever set of parents you grew up with, you’re the only one responsible for changing. You can beg, plead, borrow, negotiate or steal – but they are who they are and now what you have is your your opportunity to engrave your name into the lives of your own children.
Do you follow generational habits and behaviour, or do you light the lamp on the path of your own?
Regardless of how I grew up, or what relationship I find myself in with my parents, the following has been the most important in raising my own children:
- Letting them make their own decisions
- Letting them make the wrong decisions and being there to help them fix it if they ask for the help
- Supporting them implicitly; even if I don’t necessarily agree with the decisions they’re making
- Giving them enough space to feel that they are independent, without letting them stray so far, they begin to feel alone
- Not judging them; for their mistakes, their identities, the people they date, etc.
- Remembering that relationships are two-way streets. I want them to want to talk to me, as much as I want to talk to them. Instead of being pissed off they haven’t called in a few days, I simply call them instead
- Making a promise, and sticking with it. Leading by example.
- Not sticking a receipt next to their head every time I assist them financially. They are my children, not clients.
- Remembering how amazing it is that they are healthy, and happy. That they want me to be a figure in their lives. It is my responsibility to keep that momentum in their world. They have to want to want me. And only I can convince them of that.
Tonight, Kid A and I made a whack of gluten free food, got drunk on White Russians and played board games with her significant other. And while I’m not overly familiar with this man, she is. And I have to be confident that she has made the correct decision for herself with the tools I gave her. She has a keen eye, a smart head on her shoulders, and a powerful gut instinct. And this is what she wants. So this is what I support.
Because having her want me in her life is far better than the alternative.
I can’t imagine not having a relationship with my child. Or with any of my children. These three breathe life into my daily.
— c ☆