𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯
Whew honey…. Are you ready for this tea time convo?
Mom guilt is real. Parental guilt is real. Society’s influence on our parenting also real.
What’s not often discussed is the idea that our worth as parents are directly defined by the success of our children. This subject is probably gonna cause some controversial emotions but bear with me.
When we become parents much of our identities change. Being responsible for a life is a huge undertaking that redefines how we move in the world. We develop a sense of pride with each new milestone and for many a profound sense of life purpose. This identity becomes hard to fathom and let go of as the children we nursed from infancy into adulthood start to
leave the nest. We must then redefine who we are sans children.
But before this happens, we have a hard phase of parenthood… the phase where our adolescents are learning autonomy independent from us, the phase where they move closer to peers, the phase where they inevitably begin to make mistakes. The phases aren’t always linear or have a specific time frame, the mistakes and hard lessons aren’t always catastrophic, but often when you as a parent find out it’s hard because there’s a guilt that somehow you failed or didn’t do enough.
On the flip side to that we carry pride when our precious offspring do things to make us proud. Even as I had started this topic in the notes in my phone I was interrupted by the days errands and found myself driving behind a vehicle displaying 2 different stickers of their childrens colleges of choice (XYZ) proudly displaying “XYZ Mom”. I smiled as if this were confirmation to the thoughts I had previously started to jot down. Often our pride is not for them and their future but for how WE feel or how it makes us look… as if their success confirms our parenting skill….ever heard parents talk about their children? Then you understand.
As we’ve struggled as a family this year through some things (through time I will be more publicly about it as I do think the discussion can help shed some light, but we’re currently healing first) I’ve come to realize that as individuals we trudge down the paths that are meant for us. Life is about learning, expanding, evolving. I’ve realized that there are individuals that had loving parents who felt alone, individuals that had support and a great life that go down a hard path, individuals who had nothing but became successful, individuals from loveless homes that have so much love to give and do, and there are individuals that fall into the same routine as the environments they were brought up in. That’s a lot of worded examples to say that while I believe that parenting, environment, upbringing, love, etc have profound impacts on the development of each individual person it’s not always the indicator of the success or character of a person. Thus my theory stands that the success/character of your children is not correlated with your worth as a parent.
I believe that as a parent your role is to provide love, stability and guidance, a life mentor of sorts. I believe that when children go astray, as they make mistakes, as they grow and learn it’s your job to clear the path but ultimately you must understand they will choose their own. Sometimes they will come back to the path you cleared and other times forge their own. Sometimes the path will be easy and sometimes it will be rough and rocky.
These metaphors are not to be regarded as a forcing of beliefs but the coming of ones person and the understanding of autonomy, self development, and the independence of parent and child.
In a conversation this week with Gabby, my youngest son, I said let me fill you in on a life secret. There is no such thing as a stress free life, there will always be some sort of stressors… the key is learning how YOU can healthily manage those stresses. Your worth as a parent is not defined by the success of your children. Parenting is hard. Your children will break your heart. Give them grace. Give yourself grace.
SN: understand this is written from my perspective and I fully acknowledge that not every experience is relevant to what is written. I hope that the message I’m trying to convey proceeds the thoughts or feelings that arise.