I blame psychology. I have no idea how old I was when I learned about self esteem, positive thinking, dysfunctional families and codependency. It certainly wasn’t in college, it wasn’t even in school. Everyone knows just enough psychology to know that everything is really your mother’s fault. Come on- just think about it. If you had been parented better, understood better, supported better you’d be taking on the world today, right?
I have memories of my first “mother blames”. She would yell at me and hurt my feelings and I would run to my room and slam the door. I knew that she always got over it faster than I did. She just didn’t understand me. (Maybe I was 9…9 year old suck.) I promised myself that when I was a mom I would do a hell of a lot better for my kids. And they could have lots of pets. And they could go to Dairy Queen just on a whim sometimes. And I would certainly never make my kids cry.
Of course parenting matters. Of course we should do our best when we can. Of course the world of parenting education and the real world of social science and psychology has a lot to offer us. But we cannot parent perfectly. There is no measure of how much worry becomes over protective or how much generosity becomes indulgence. It is impossible to know if you are setting reasonable limits or being consistent or providing just enough nurturance.
Even if kids had a control panel that measured all the levels and you could get it just right you’d still be screwing them up. Who wants to hang out with the guy whose parents raised him perfectly? What would he talk about? How would you connect? I love people who are interesting. I want people who have stories to tell, who have struggled. Heaven forbid that I raise kids who no one wants to have a beer with.
Do a good job. Set a good example. Be messy and human and make mistakes and reconnect. Teach forgiveness by giving them a lot of chances to forgive you. Teach them compassion by letting them see your struggles. Teach them gratitude by reminding them just how privileged they are to have people who care enough to play big.
Come join me Sunday for Positive Parenting for a Happy Family I promise it is important…but not at all serious.