A visit to the Gynecologist is second only to the up close & personal review of your parenting style from the perspective of your 2 adult children. I will be the first to admit that my parenting style was, and continues to be somewhat less than conventional. Over the years my kids and I have watched many a movie together, and out of curiosity I once asked them which “Mom” character most closely resembled myself. This reference may not be helpful to those of you who have not seen the movie “The Family Stone”starring Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Luke Wilson, but for those of you who have it paints a pretty descriptive picture. According to my children I am Cybil, the character played by Diane Keaton.
We are lucky because our children like coming by, and hanging out with us. However unconventional we may be, we are all very close. So yesterday morning the kids and I were at home sitting at the kitchen table discussing what it was like to grow up in our home. It occurred to me that the areas of parenting where I felt like I should have done things differently were not the areas that they would have changed. I have to admit to you all (as I have with my children) that I never envisioned myself being married. I never dreamed of a wedding or even imagined that I would have children.
Truth be told I couldn’t imagine a God who would entrust me with either of those roles. On the good side I am caring, empathetic, and patient. On the bad side I am blunt, I am overly protective, and when angered I can be quite explosive. I felt like I treated my children as though they were more like adults than like children. I was harsher than I should have been. I engaged in power struggles to illustrate my point instead of realizing that as the adult it was completely unnecessary.
I have always admitted to my children when I felt my reaction to a situation was wrong. I was wrong more times than I care to recall. I think the one thing I did right was that I apologized immediately when I knew I had done the wrong thing. I explained why I was wrong and how I should have done things correctly. This does not in any way excuse my bad behavior or change any of the damage I may have done to my children. It did however let them know that I not only loved them, but that they were entitled to my respect. It was hard to hear them tell me with a joking manner and clearly hurtful eyes that after being scolded by me they were never in fear of anyone else. They felt that like my father had made me into such a strong person that I had done the same for them.
I love my children for trying to ease my deepest regrets. It’s a strong affirmation that with all my mistakes they have compassion for my very real disappointment in not always being the parent they deserved. More importantly I do not allow them to dismiss my wrong doing. I hold myself accountable for all my behavior in hopes that they will one day pause when they are about to do the wrong thing towards their own children. That they will break the cycle of bad parenting. That they will do better than I did, and if they stumble that they will remember that it’s important to show your children respect and truth. In hopes that they will never forget their own extraordinary value as human beings.