At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses. – Ellen Key
So, I won’t go into detail about my kids or anybody else’s but I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of us who have and are experiencing the disappointment and guilt brought on by our grown kids doing stupid shit!
What constitutes “stupid shit” can be relative. But no matter what it is, we know it when we see it!
We’ve worked so hard for our kids!
We’ve sacrificed and prayed for them, giving them everything we had- Every. Single. Day!
And then what do they do?
Do they use all the knowledge and wisdom we have given and invested in them to make the world a better place?
Do they use all the gifts and talents …some of which cost a pretty penny to bring to the surface!
Do they go out in the world sharing all the love and kindness that you have showered over them all of their lives?
Do they lead by example?
Do they shine like bright beacons of light helping others to find their way?
Do they pray and always put God first.
Do they use common sense?
Do they make decisions based on logic, prayer, and reason?
Do they respect themselves and others?
Do they honor and appreciate your investment in them by going into the world representing the best of who you hoped they’d be?
The answer is Yes, sometimes they do but then sometimes, they do stupid shit!
Sometimes, they go into the world and live a life that has no resemblance to your love, sacrifice or who you taught and raise them to be!
Then you ask yourself, “how did this happen?!” And in comes the guilt!
You wonder to yourself, what did I do wrong? What could/should I have done differently? Maybe I should have spent more time on this and less time on that?
I mean the list of “what-ifs” and “maybes” are infinite!
And then after the guilt comes the disappointment!
You try to hide your disappointment because you don’t want to make things worse than they already are and you hold on to the desperate belief that at some point (soon!), they’ll come to realize all the stupid shit they’re doing and make some hard changes!
But until then, it is heart-wrenching and heartbreaking to watch because you can see their potential! You know that they can not only do better but they have the talent, knowledge, and skill to do absolutely whatever they can image!
But instead, they do stupid shit!
But I’ve come to realize a couple of things.
First, I’ve realized that sometimes, it’s not just disappointment and guilt that we feel when our kids mess up, we can also feel embarrassed!
And we feel embarrassed because we think about all those other young adults we know that actually look like they’ve got it together. Then we do that terrible thing that always, always makes everything worse…we compare!
Why can’t you be like your cousin Tommy? Why can you be like your friend, Mary? Etc. Etc.
Doing this never helps anybody!
And then the other thing I’ve realized is that we (parents) have done our share of stupid shit too! And some of us are STILL trying to figure some things out!
So, even though it can be very difficult at times, whenever I feel myself in the throes of disappointment, guilt and embarrassment over my kids, I do this;
• I reflect on my own moments of shittery, both yesterday’s and today’s.
• I remind myself that no matter how much ownership I feel for who they are, their lives are their own.
• I remember that some of my greatest revelations were gained through great hardship and bad decisions.
• I trust in the seeds of faith and hard work that I have planted in their spirit.
• I trust that they know God and when they are ready they will turn to Him for answers.
• I trust in God’s promise that He will never leave them or forsake them.
• And I pray that I am granted the necessary strength, patience, wisdom, and faith to keep believing that they will be fine, that they will be better than fine in fact!
• And most of all, I pray that I stay diligent in knowing that our adult children are God’s children. And that they must now answer to Him for the decisions they make and the actions they take.
• Finally, I try to commit more of my time and energy to doing those things that make me better and stronger in body, mind, and spirit.
In the meantime, I’m trying to stop the habit of dreaming for my kids and getting disappointed when they don’t live up to them. They are responsible for manifesting their own dreams now!
It’s time for me to let go!
See Also: The Problem of the Perfect Parent