How can a job like raising a fellow human being require zero education or training???

Saying you are Sorry

I was chatting with a girlfriend a couple of weeks back who is a stepmom to two kids; a boy and a girl.  We were discussing parenting, and our very real worry, hell down right fear of f*@king our kids up.  I don’t know about you, what you remember about how your parents raised you, whether you have fond memories, or horror stories that playback in your mind’s eye, but parenting is tough business.  As a parent I can attest to this.  Often times I still cannot believe that I am a parent, or that I’ve raised three women who are all in their 20’s.  It seriously causes me to scratch my head that I’ve managed this.  Well that WE have managed it.  It was definitely a group effort between me and Yan, a whole whack of close friends and family, and if I’m honest the girls themselves also helped.  Life is challenging enough trying to make wise decisions for ones-self, never mind putting a whole bunch or standards/deals into another human being.  What ones are essential, which are up for negotiation and which are, to be blunt, simply our own idiosyncrasies?

It is a delicate dance; raising a person.  It’s hard enough to simply have the energy to keep up with their schedules, and then we have to make positive, healthy character imprints onto them.  It’s a tall order.  And it’s something that requires zero training.  Like we don’t need to take courses to be parents.  It isn’t mandated that we read a book, or two, or three, and then write a test.  There are no “on the road” lessons we can take with a practice baby.

Nope.  We get no help in this department.  There are no requirements other than one person needs to provide sperm to the person who holds the eggs.

Period.  This is all that is needed to go out into the world and pro-create a fellow human being who will one day be let “loose” on their own to be a member of society.

Shit.

That’s wild.  How can the most important job that any of us will ever have require so little education, training, or knowledge before taking on the task??  It is truly mind blowing.  So no wonder my girlfriend was saying what we’re all thinking; “I hope I don’t fuck them up too badly.”

Don’t we all feel this way?  I know I do.  Hell I blogged about it in yesterday’s post that I have regrets as to how I was with Brianna in comparison to the kind of mother I was to Mikaela as an infant.  But you see, by the time Mikaela came along I had already done this job two other times.  I had practice, and on the job training.  None of which I had with Brianna, the firstborn. Parenting is such an important job to hold, and so many of us are simply raising our own kids with a combo method.  Half doing the things that we feel our parents did that were awesome, and worthy of repeating, and the other half which is avoiding the things our parents did that we believe are what caused us the most “damage” and landed us in therapy.  Then are those of us who are more open to input, and advice, avid readers, looking to absorb all the information we can from books that have been recommended to us from other parents we admire.  Whatever method you’re currently employing if you’re a parent who is still in the thick of “forming” your child, you’re mostly scared shit-less, concerned that you’re not doing it right.  Sure that there is something you’re doing that’s going to one day land your kid in therapy, the same way you once were, or hell might still be.

I’m here to tell you, as a mother who is pretty much on the other side of it:  you will fuck your kids up.  You will absolutely without a doubt blow it, a lot.  You will have many regrets, and many victories; this is parenting.  It is like any other important task you have attempted without a instruction manual, it is trial and error.  And the best part of trial and error, is when you try one method on your child if it doesn’t work, you hopefully have learned from it and don’t repeat it.  This is key in parenting.  And if you do make the same mistake a time or two there is one thing I found that makes it all better.  Something I did with our girls a lot, and that was say “sorry.”  Whenever I caught myself making a complete mess of a situation, or mishandling something, I would do that one thing and all would be new again.

Kids are awesome.  They’re sort of like dogs.  They don’t hang onto when we’re upset with them, or when we blow it with them; they’re super loving, and accepting.  They don’t remember how we screwed up a situation, but they will always and forever remember that we had the character to admit to them that we were wrong.  And if you really want to raise an amazing human being, do this one thing:  treat them like they’re already an amazing human being worthy of your humility, and they will in turn grow up emphatic, kind, and compassionate.  And what could be better than that???  That my friends is a parenting job very well done if you manage this!

3 Comments

  1. I won’t get any good stars for parenting, but Lord knows we love our girls and we’ve tried our best. We’ve had challenges that nothing could have prepared us for. Our oldest child, Katy, is 33. She has Aspergers Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. She was diagnosed in middle school. After turning every rock, (psychiatrists, psychologists, special school etc.) she graduated high school, even struggled through three years of art school. Today she lives at home, has had failed relationships…etc., has difficulty working due to processing issues and difficulty with social skills. She was recently diagnosed with bi-polar disorder as well. Julia is 27. She was born with partial optic nerves. She is, for all intents and purposes, blind. Unlike Katy she is extremely motivated, has lived on her own (close to home), works as a teacher while finishing up on her degree. She has goals, many friends and so many talents. These girls have emotional scars from dealing with each other, while we frantically tried to keep a healthy family dynamic. Here’s the point: parenting is tough! You don’t know how your kids are going to turn out, or what kind of issues they will have. I’m trying to think of my own serenity and ask for God’s help. No matter what, if your kids can launch with some degree of success or make goals so they can launch, you’ve done a great job. Pat yourself on the back and thank God for your blessings.

  2. When I was becoming a father for the first time, I was freaking out about it and reading all the books I could and stuff, and finally a friend of mine who is a wildlife biologist sat me down and said “John: gorillas are wonderful parents and I promise you they’ve never read a book on how to do it.”

    Now, later in life, I have come to the conclusion that all you need to be a good parent is to really want to be a good parent and be willing to put in the effort.

  3. It has been said that being a parent is the hardest job ou will ever love. And you never really know if you are doing it right while they are rowing and learning. You just have to do your best along the road. I grew up in a loving military family, Definitely learning to always to the right thing. Not pounded into us, just emphasized in all that we did, and leading by example. Always Care for others. We tried to do the same with our children, giving them space to make mistakes but always being there for them if they needed support in dealing with those mistakes. A home willed with Love and Being there, seemed to work out well. Our ‘children’ are now their 30s and loving, caring and productive adults. You don’t know at the time if you are doing it right, and it is scary at times. But you find out later that you did. And as with my son and daughter, your girls are a testament to the fact that you two did it right.

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