What Will Your Children Resent You For?
By Yasmine Abbasakoor
Photo © christyhermogenes/Twenty20
Jan 14, 2019
Have you thought of this already? What will your children wish you did differently? What will be their anecdote at parties be? Or their gripes to their therapists? After you’ve put in all the love you possibly could — what will they be mad about?
Of course, I hope the answer is nothing. I hope they have the goodwill to know that our mistakes as parents are not malicious attacks. But, still, they’ve got to have something ready for Festivus.
It always shocks me a little to hear grownups complain about what their parents did wrong. It’s usually something ridiculous: "I wanted unicycle lessons and they didn’t support me."
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My unimpressed response? So, take some lessons. You want to be a unicyclist so bad, jump on that wheel — no one’s stopping you now!
Your parents dressed you, maybe poorly; they fed you, probably not organically; and they loved you, in the best way they could. What more can you ask for? Honestly, not much. So why do we?
I was bragging to my mum about my kids swimming prowess and she said to me, "That was never really your thing, was it?" I wanted to snap back with something like, "maybe if the pool you took me to wasn’t so cold." As if that would have made a difference.
My swimming lessons could’ve been in a hot tub and I’d still sink. It’s so much easier to blame cold water for my ineptitude.
And there it is.
"Is the trick to care a little less?"
We just want to lay blame somewhere for our "lack ofs." The secret to not finding fault in your parents' rearing skills is to realize whatever you’re "lacking" maybe isn’t that bad. It’s just a part of you. You need confidence mixed with acceptance. Be bold enough to say, "yeah, I suck at swimming and I don’t care." Or, "I have some personal skills to work on and that’s fine, so does everyone else. Including my parents."
So how do we translate this to our kids? How do we raise them to not find needless fault in themselves, and by default our parenting?
I can’t say I resent any choices my parents made for me, even the cold pool. And I ignored more good advice than had bad experiences foisted on me. So, what did they do that worked?
I think they were chilled out…
They weren’t especially invested in my successes or my failures. My mum loved watching me run track, then loved rubbing it in when the kid who always beat me made it to the Olympics. (Congratulations, Jessica!)
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Is the trick to care a little less?
In that spirit, I’m going to try to remember to not be heartbroken when my kids stumble. If I don’t worry, they won’t. I’ll let them find their own way back up again, not rushing to teach them every trick, letting them learn to learn.
If my plan works, in twenty years, they’ll joyfully show me the dog they finally got when they moved out, exclaim how much fun they're having on their first hockey team and thank me for leaving some experiences for their adulthood.
More likely, they’ll tell stories of how we refused to take them to Disney, while I prepare the slideshow of what my boobs used to look like. They’ll accuse us of never fixing their teeth properly and I’ll crack the bone in my hand that I destroyed while chasing one of them down a black diamond.
If we must resent each other… at least we’ll be laughing about it.
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