an open apology to all parents
i will openly admit that i’m a critical person. it’s ingrained in my fleshly nature. most of the time, there’s really nothing good about this aspect of who i am. (however, it does come in handy in my job as an editor.)
many of my judgments have proven to be untrue. particularly in the area of parenting. as my children grow up, the things i have evaluated and determined about those a stage or two ahead of me have proven to be less than accurate.
here are a few:
i used to think that parents with screaming children in a store or restaurant needed to get it together. but then we had three boys, and i realized that sometimes children don’t act the way you want them to when you want them to. and i also lost one in Walmart. (i eventually found him.)
i used to think that parents whose lives revolved around their kids’ activities had a skewed perspective. now you can find me shuttling my boys around to various social functions and sports games/practices. (i also realize that the parents can find a great sense of community with other team parents.)
i used to think that parents who emphasized grades were on some kind of ego trip. now i realize there is more to the story. i don’t know what is going on at home. i don’t know the effort that kid puts in. but i also know that it’s ultimately up to the kid to take that test or turn in that assignment.
i used to think that kids who went to a different youth group than where they went to church was just bad parenting. now, as we’re coordinating two different youth groups on wednesday for my twin boys because it’s the only time they are ever apart from one another, i’m chewing on my words.
i used to think that the actions of a teenager reflected on how they are parented. now i realize that’s not always the case. good kids make bad decisions sometimes. even good kids who were parented well. kids are just growing, learning, making mistakes. and when they reach a certain age, they make their own decisions.
i used to think that parents who didn’t have a lot of rules for their teen were slacking. now i realize there is a balancing act of creating boundaries, letting them make decisions and allowing them room to fail.
i used to think that parents who didn’t save the day were slackers. now i realize that the safest place for my kids to make a mistake is while they at home. and i need to give them room to fail. i can’t do a project for them. i can’t take a test for them. i can equip. i can support. i can remind them. (sometimes to the point of nagging.) but ultimately, they have to do the work.
the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. before i was a parent, i had such strong opinions on how a child should/shouldn’t be raised.
then we had kids.
but that didn’t stop me. i still had opinions and judgments about how things should look a phase or two ahead.
then my children grew older.
now i’m realizing that i’ve stumbled my way through all of this.
sometimes i parent well.
sometimes i don’t.
and i’ve never been, nor i never will be the perfect parent i thought i would be.
so i need to say this, “i’m sorry.”
whether i’ve voiced judgments around you, or simply thought them in my head, the reality is that there is always more going on than what can be seen. and answers that seemed so simple externally are sometimes so much layered in the actual situation.
i’m less confident in what should or shouldn’t happen in parenting at this point in my life.
but i do know i’m trying my best.
and so are many of you.
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image courtesy of flickr.com/creativecommons/by butupa