Letting Go/ I Told You So, and The Parent Curse

You get to 50, you feel at least slightly entitled to start offering advice (to your family anyway). Welcome to my world, pull up a chair and “set a spell, take your shoes off” (name that TV show!)

One of the toughest parts about being a parent is letting go. We’ve been there, done that and learned from our mistakes (hopefully). As the girls get older they spend more and more time away from home. It occasionally creates a tremendous amount of anxiety watching my children socially navigate in the deeper waters of young adult hood. Knowing the missteps I made, and hoping against hope that we (parents) helped provide the tools needed to make better choices than we did at their ages. Sometimes its so hard not to fire up that Huey and pull an “Apocalypse Now” type moment – screaming “DON”T DO IT!” while ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ plays bombastically in the background. I try very, very hard not to be a helicopter parent. This does not keep me from keeping my mouth shut. (Like anybody ever could, lol!) I will dispense all of the advice I think they need. Of course there are standard house rules for both that are non-negotiable; but the six year age gap necessitates a different approach with each.

Photo Credit: dalisha..com

Fortunately, I have been blessed with intelligent children, and they have intelligent friends. Not to say that they haven’t been “Richard Craniums” on occasion (can’t we all?) and not listened to their Momma – who is ALWAYS right, until I’m not ;). By and large though, they do. As my oldest prepares to step into her twenties, I have grown strangely smarter in her eyes. Talking with my mother, she said this phenomenon occurred with both my sister and me as we grew up too. My father always handled his advice-giving to his late teen and adult daughters with the preface: “You do as you please, but….” I find myself saying this to my girls; always having liked how it sounded – the respect and empowerment it gives to the other person. The “agreeing to disagree.” This simple statement allowed him to acknowledge me as an adult, but also enabled him to get his two cents in. Brilliant, just frickin brilliant….

But, Dad always knew when to back off. I can only imagine how many times he left my presence shaking his head at my utter stupidity. He was always there to help pick up the pieces post-disaster, and refrained from rubbing salt in the wounds with the proverbial “I told you so”. Not that there were many disasters – I quickly realized that my parents weren’t as dumb as I’d originally thought. I’m still working on the backing off part. With a background in social work and 30 years in human services I’ve spent the majority of my adult life problem solving, assisting people with making choices and planning for good outcomes. It grinds my gears when people don’t listen to me, because I know what I’m talking about. And if I think I’m right, I will argue the point ad nauseam, ad infinitum. When the girls were little, this wasn’t an issue. My job was to make the decisions for them. Now that they’re older its really hard to relinquish that duty.

My babies are going to get their hearts broken, and mine will break for them too (have already in fact). They’re going to miss opportunities. They’re going to make choices I won’t agree with, that I know are bad for them. And I’m going to have to let them – because I want the girls to be able to handle whatever life throws at them with grace and fortitude. They can’t do that if I wrap them up in pink tissue paper and put them in a closet. (figuratively speaking). So, when the predicted disasters strike, I’ll be biting my tongue – like my father did, to avoid the “I told you so.” And be there with my sleeves rolled up, available to help if needed. I should say that they’ll be fixing their problems themselves. I’ll be the cheerleader. I guess the parent curse does work after all. I have kids just like me…

And here is some sage advice from Mike Adams at NaturalNews.com. The article is about identifying sociopathic and/or cult behavior, but the advice itself is pretty spot on – and in one form or another this is what I have attempted to instill in my children:

“#1) Think for yourself. Be skeptical of everything. Most people, corporations, governments and institutions are lying to you. There is much good in the world, but there is far more selfishness and greed which is falsely presented as that which is good.

#2) Follow your inner truth, not some external guru. Any guru who demands your obedience is a false prophet. A real teacher is one who empowers you and sets you free to explore your life experience with complete freedom tempered by a code of morals and personal responsibility.

#3) Serve in the protection of life, with or without a church or spiritual group. You can protect life every day in your own garden. Resist the seduction of profit and power that comes from serving darkness (i.e. working for Big Pharma). Seek to protect life, which is sacred and precious.

#4) Value all living things, including animals and plants. You are their shepherd. Protect the diversity of life and the integrity of the continuation of life. (For example, resist GMO and plant only non-hybrid seeds.)

#5) Live an authentic life. Practice what you teach. Walk your talk. Do not speak with one face and then secretly act out another. Spiritual strength comes from spiritual authenticity, and even if the world isn’t aware of what you do when no one is looking, God and the universe most certainly are. Karma counts.

#6) Defend the innocent. Stand your ground against bullies. Resist tyranny. Promote freedom, liberty and justice. Help others when you can, and seek to empower others with the skills and knowledge they can use to support themselves rather than creating dependency.

#7) Tell the truth. It is powerful… perhaps the most powerful thing in the universe. The truth unfailingly outshines lies and deceptions. And even when the people around you may not see the truth, the greater universe does. By telling the truth, you empower yourself in all areas of your life, and you bring yourself closer to true spiritual understanding.”

10 thoughts on “Letting Go/ I Told You So, and The Parent Curse

  1. My son was “cursed” with an overbearing parent for a few years. My wife is a pragmatic angel, so guess who the villain is? Even when the poor kid was in preschool, driven by superficial notions of competition and success, I was constantly over his shoulder correcting and being critical. In the last couple of years, I’ve learned to let go and relax and be supportive when mistakes are made. He’s only in 3rd grade, so hopefully I haven’t scarred the little guy for life. Parenting is a tough gig, but I’m improving.

    • I’m guilty. Especially with the oldest one. The experimental child, the one we make the most mistakes with and hover over. The one we took to the ER for a nosebleed. # 2 and on – we just tell them not to drip on the carpet….

  2. I believe my father’s saying to me during my 20’s was “You’re old enough to make your own mistakes…” I respect my parents for being there when I jumped off a few social cliffs. They made me climb back up on my own, but left a rope to hold onto. Anyway, children (even in their 20’s) rarely will hear wisdom from parents. I learned more from my Aunt, who probably said exactly what my parents would have said. Now, I try to be that uncle to my nephews and nieces. You might even read between the lines of some of my posts to figure out who my audience might be (assuming that they can read more than 140 characters).

    • 140 characters…lol…. Good one. My folks sound pretty similar to yours actually. I heard the old enough speech a few times for sure, and also used that rope you mentioned a time or two. When I first started blogging I posted a list of sorts about life. With a bit of tongue in cheek here, and some creative license: Kids at 5: my folks know everything. 10: My teachers know more than my folks do. 15-20ish: Everyone is stupid but me and my friends. 25-35: I begin to see that my folks were not so clueless after all. 40-60: I sound just like my parents. 70+: I wish my folks were around, they were smart people – these kids today, jeez. I worry about the future.. And so it goes… ;). As always – wonderful to hear from you. D.

  3. tricky balance. my parents were utter opposites…and now that im in my mid twenties, my dad has suddenly gotten protective. odd.

  4. Hello my Grown Up DJ…. What a wonder to behold, as I read what you said… I can remember when…. Oops didn’t mean to do that! Hee, Hee! You are on point, and just a really wise person that I am honored to call my friend and neice. stay true to your self and you’ll never go wrong. Love ya, Auntie H….

    • Yes you did mean to do that, and it was funny! 😉 Its so important to live authentically. And its so hard to watch my treasures getting ready to leave the nest. I can take comfort in knowing I’m doing my best – even if the dang kids didn’t come home from the hospital with instructions. #authenticparenting

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