I’ve always encouraged my kids to find themselves. To find a dream and pursue it and most of all, to find happiness and keep it.
The key to happiness is always going to be from within, so for me, the most important life lesson I can teach them is to be happy. I’ve often said I don’t care how you get there, or when you get there, just get there. I remember as a teen, not knowing what I wanted to be as an adult, and feeling caught between two worlds. The world where I couldn’t disappoint my parents and the world where I couldn’t find my footing for fear of disappointing my parents.
So I did everything in my power to fulfill my parents desires. I went to school. (failed my first year of college, went to another school, graduated summa cum laude) then went back to my original school and did the same. Graduated with honors.
And I was miserable for the next 10 years because I didn’t have focus, or drive, or any idea what I wanted to be now that I was an adult.
I don’t wish that on anyone. Especially my children.
We’re at a crossroads with my oldest. He’s not working, and he needs to be. He is looking–and he’s looking hard. I’ve been helping him for months. He’s a teenager–so he makes stupid decisions sometimes. Didn’t we all? I talk to him every day. I don’t nag him or yell at him because he responds negatively to that and shuts down. He’s just oppositional enough that he will do exactly the opposite of what you want if you bark at him and chastise him. I’ve learned over the years to talk to him like an adult and try to give him the room to make mistakes and learn from them. I’ve supported him financially and emotionally. And I will continue to do so for a little while longer.
I may be making a mistake by parenting him this way, but threats don’t work. They never have! I used to call him a chameleon child. It didn’t matter the punishment you doled out, he adapted to it. We took EVERYTHING out of his room one time–he played with pennies he found in the corner. We offered to pay him for his grades; that wasn’t motivating. We yelled, spanked, tore our hair out…he didn’t change anything. He’s adaptable. He needs to do things himself. So I’m trying so hard to let him.
But damn, I sometimes just want to scream at him. Luckily for both of us, I’m smarter than that. I learned a long time ago that doesn’t work. That I had to adapt my parenting style to accommodate his personality and learning style. (I just wish others could do the same…)
He and I have a great relationship. When we talk, he’s honest as am I. He needs to get his shit together, and he knows it. He’s working on it…on his time. And I’m fighting with everything in my being to allow him to do that, because I remember being that kid. Stuck between childhood and adulthood, wanting to please my parents…wanting to do what was right…and losing myself in the end. But if I allow him to do this himself, he’ll be a better man for it.
Parenting ain’t easy.