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.
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.”
- Take Heed: I will call your parents… (nerdyapple.com)
- Letting go one step at a time. (mom-101.com)
- Helicopter Parenting vs Being the Tree – the Parenting Dilemma (dalishah.com)
- Author urges helicopter parents to get out of the way (thestar.com)