Over the course of my parenting life, there have been moments of anguish and dare to admit, embarrassment as a result of actions and decisions by my kids.
If you have never had any of these as a parent, it’s either one of two things – you live in the clouds of denial or you are simply blessed and fortunate.
I have written about this subject before when things are heavy. I accept both my kids are challenging. It doesn’t mean my wife and I are bad parents. Some people – those judgmental types – think, however, kids are direct reflections of their parents and upbringing. These folks come to hasty, ignorant conclusions devoid of empathy and understanding. It happens all the time, but I refuse to meet commonplace with acceptance.
While I have accepted my parenting road is unique – and probably tougher than most while easier than some – I have learned along the way a bit of compassion is needed toward other parents. We need to lift each other up, rather than tear down. If it’s to be believed it takes a village to raise a kid – and I do think it’s true – we should all accept none of us know everything that goes on within a family. There’s likely a bit of ugliness within every home at times.
These people we are raising need us in their lives, but they may also make horrible decisions along the way. It’s okay to feel shame every now and again internally, but we must take a holistic view to parenting. We need to have our eyes open with a keen perspective. Lapses in judgement should not be met with absolute condemnation. Some scolding packaged with consequences for a wrong choice seems important to us, but these are family decisions. One direction will not for all, and that’s okay. There’s no real right or wrong when it comes to parenting because each child is different. Criticism of fellow parents is not a productive course and it can be harmful when it’s done with deceit.
On this general topic of divisiveness, Dr. Ben Carson says, “We, the American people, are not each other’s enemies. The enemies are those people behind the curtain jerking everybody’s chains and trying to divide us up by age, by race, by income.”
Parents don’t need community judgment over this or that action done by a teenager. If we are keeping it real, most teens are immature, entirely too obsessed with themselves and selfish. This is not a direct result of parenting. It starts at home but there are many instances when the right course is being set by parents and the wrong direction is chosen.
I found a favorite new page to follow recently called Whitney Fleming Writes. A mother of three teen daughters, she keeps it real, and I like how she writes, especially on teens. Here’s an excerpt.
There’s a reason why parents of big kids shut down when their kids hit the teenage years.
There’s a reason why moms stop talking to other parents at pick up lines and dads avoid people at all cost
You know that phrase little kids, little problems. Big kids, bigger problems? It is so true.
And if you are lucky enough to raise a teenager that never drank or smoked or did drugs, if you are lucky enough to have a child that never got arrested for a misdemeanor or snuck out or cheated on a test, if you are lucky enough never to feel like you were just a complete and utter failure as a parent because of the behavior of your kid despite your best efforts, consider it just that: lucky.
Because for most big kids who do something bad, it is usually not from bad parenting as much as the teen making a bad decision.
And we need to sit on that for a second. Kids who make bad choices often come from a loving home and from great parents.
Before we rush to judgment. Before we roll our eyes and start mentioning all the things we think those parents did wrong. Before we fill ourselves with righteous indignation.
We need to remember that it could be our kid, and how do we want people to treat us?
Sure, we need to be conscientious parents and raise our kids to the best of our abilities. Kids raised by engaged parents have the best shot at developing into productive adults.
But unless you have severely neglected, abused, or traumatized your child, we need to recognize that sometimes teenagers lose their way despite our best efforts.
It’s their brain wiring. It’s outside influences. It’s rebellion. It’s seeking control.
It’s growing up.
… I speak from experience. Sometimes good kids just make bad decisions. Sometimes good kids have addictions. Sometimes good kids are hurting and don’t know how to express it. Sometimes good kids cave under pressure. Sometimes good kids want to impress their peers so they do something bad.
And oftentimes these good kids come from good parents, great parents, loving parents.
There is enough guilt when it comes to parenting. Did I do too much for them? Not enough? Did I give them too much freedom? Was I too overbearing? … So, the next time your local rumor mill starts running with the bad behavior of a child coming from a “good” family, maybe resist the urge to spread the gossip to another friend. Instead, maybe use it as a discussion springboard with your own child.
… We have to dig deep within ourselves to understand each other.