It is tough being a parent.
A good parent makes hard decisions. They are not blind to their child’s faults and are willing to put in the hard yards to help the child.
It means letting your child face consequences and deal with life and figure it out on their own. It means not jumping in and fixing every mistake they make or supplying them with a “get out of jail free card” every time it is serious. It means not making excuses. It means making parenting a job and not the kind of hobby where you glue and sew and bake and in the end enter your creation in a fair hoping to win a prize.
Parenting does not come with a manual. We get caught up in life and our own problems and the fact we have to have to get to the homeless shelter where we volunteer right away. We have good reasons for not being present parents and we cast the dice and hope for the best. Maybe it won’t matter.
It always does.
But it is always fixable because us being busy and making mistakes … is reality. We can be fallible parents, we can make mistakes, but we cannot be enablers.
Most parents are enablers without even realizing they are doing it. I have been an enabler at times.
We can’t be blind to our children’s flaws.
Which has nothing to do with loving them. Of course we love them, flaws and all, but we cannot enable their flaws. We do that when we do things like give them money we know is going for drugs, when we go shopping with them when we know they are in debt beyond their control, encourage them to “smash the kid” when they are on the sporting field and they are a bully, and say nothing when we know they have a history of anger problems with their partners.
It is the toughest part of being a parent. Enforcing the consequences, seeking help outside the family, standing firm on our word.
Parents know their children. They know the whole story. They know the person inside the representation.
This is a plea to all those well meaning people who get involved with our kids, thinking they are “helping” when they are only “enabling.” I have seen so many of these people come and go out of people’s lives, putting their two cents in, getting involved, coaching people to actions that are contrary to what the family is trying to do to help their child (and I am talking adult children now)and when they are gone they leave things far worse than they ever were.
Your 2 years . . . 3 months . . . 5 minutes . . . with someone does not trump a lifetime of the people who have always been there. There are shades and colourings of their relationship and lives that you cannot even begin to understand. Our only involvement with one another’s problems should simply be:
- Emergency first aid if needed (, food, clothing, shelter, police, social service, hospital, etc)
- A listening ear, a shoulder, open arms.
- Empowerment (encouragement to heal, to make their own decisions)
We should never be the ones that fan the flames or to force our solutions on someone. We should not be in the way of those that love someone trying to reconnect. We should not decide that we are more meaningful or important than someone’s family. We should never make it a “me or them” argument.
If you care about someone, love them enough to want to see them whole and healed. Understand that even though you may not understand why parents do what they do and it may seem cruel to you when held up to your own experiences, sometimes it is the action of parents who cry themselves to sleep every night because they had to draw a line in the sand and they know how much it hurt their child. They did it because they love that child so much they would rather have them hate their parents for the rest of their life than to continue on doing the things they are doing and possibly end up in worse trouble, or even dead.