At dinner with friends last week we were left with a challenge to think about whether or not we’re satisfied with the way we raised our children and talk about it the next time we get together.The obvious answer is “no.” I don’t think anyone who seriously cares about his children can ever say he/she has done enough or has done everything right.
Kids are absolutely astute at discerning hypocrisies in the way parents live their lives as compared with the “standards” they teach their children. We consequently often see the phenomenon of the best kids coming from the “worst” parents or the worst kids coming from the “best.”Hypocrisy is not the only factor in this. Control and manipulation are other things in a family relationship that are closely observed by kids.
Then there is yet another factor that occurred to me to be a very large one in my own relationship with my kids. It’s a feeling in me that can be characterized in words as, “I want them to be like me, only better.” Here again, in my case, comes into play that albatross of wanting everyone else to think and feel as I do. This is smothering to another individual who, certainly, thinks that everyone else should think and feel as he/she does. This primal ego trip in parents is suffocating and is, more often than not, rebelled against in some form. Because I have such a terrible time shedding this in my own life, I have not been the best parent I could be.The sharing of advice prompted by a feeling of righteousness is justifiably taken as manipulative and controlling. In young adults it’s almost second nature to rebel in some way against it. Other than our counseling in words and our example in actions we don’t have much else to offer our children, but we’d better be real sure we believe what we say, and act according to our beliefs. In this sense the eyes of kids are kind of like the eyes of God – they see right through us. We must know that our children see us in whatever we’d be ashamed to have You see.
The final thing I’d consider here is the continual ongoing cultivation of the art of “letting go.” It is important that kids perceive our confidence in them. Of course all these observations are now made in hindsight.