“Children are a great comfort in your old age – and they help you reach it faster, too.” – Lionel Kauffman
That’s right. If many people really knew what having and raising children was all about many would opt out. Today young people do question having children where other generations took it as a given and necessary expectation.
At some point and maybe at many points your children will become alien to you.
That of course, is appropriate if they are to become their own person.
It is easy when we want a child and then has that dependent adorable new life we created. Whatever we want to say, or do is up to us. We can dress them as we like and feed them what we want and take them wherever we wish. We tell them what to do and what to think and how to behave.
We have all heard and perhaps lived through the proverbial ‘terrible two’s’ when the child says, ‘no’ to many things we want a ‘yes’ to. But they are still under our control.
It is again a battle when the teenager begins to experiment with life and what their generation is accepting that we again feel our power threatened. The normal rebellion helps the young person begin to separate in many important ways from their parent.
The differences in opinions and behavior can be mild or fierce. Sometimes the battle causes a real breach in the love and relationship that was formerly shared. The testing out that can go on can damage the young person, sometimes for life. Parents often feel helpless and lose many battles at this stage.
The real alienation occurs in adulthood when the child, is no longer a child and can be totally independent of the parents.
Here is where the hurt to the core can manifest itself.
Often it is the differences in basic philosophy. The young adult can have values that are held that they know really matter to the parent and they don’t agree.
It can be a difference of how they choose to live, what religion or lack of it, they follow.
It can be their educational choice or career. How they spend money, and the really big one; whom they choose to marry or be with.
The child knows how to hurt the parent in a way that no one else can.
The parent then has to decide if the love and bond are strong enough to tolerate the difference and ‘allow’ the child, who is now an adult, to be who they are.
In my many years of counseling, I have had numerous cases where the rift became so great and the schism so deep that it was irreparable. The relationship was broken and neither side would give in to accept the differences. Many families have drifted apart and that wound is an open one that does not heal.
Not seeing or talking or being involved in each other’s lives is a hurt that is always there even if it is never spoken about. How sad!
Many parents feel their child owes them something; doing what they want. This is a fallacy, to begin with. Children owe parents little more than respect. As adults, the joy is sharing life, perhaps grandchildren, and having loving family times together.
While it is true you may not want to be together too much, the times you are all together should be at the very least pleasant and fun. Often there is tension between some members or siblings, but that can be put aside to enjoy a holiday or special occasion if the family really has love as its’ history and roots.
Old feelings and discord don’t vanish but as adults much can be put aside for a dinner or time together.
I often ask clients if they would like the person their child has become if they were not their child. It is a question many answers with a ‘No, BUT… they are mine and we share a history and I love them.’ The trick is can you respect their difference and then accept and continue to love them?
It is a two-way street as are all relationships. Some children lose respect for their parents and find it hard to deal with them; especially when the parent is older and may need them. Tables get turned.
Each generation has to move on with new ideas and behaviors or we stand still and there is no growth or personal development.
At any rate, the job of parenting is fraught with some of our most difficult times AND some of our most beloved times. Make a decision about how you choose to live in your family!!
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.” – Hodding Carter