I’m Preparing for Failure as a Parent
I have searched the web for parenting advice. Listened to grandmas, poppops, and gamies alike. I have read my share of books about parenting newborns, toddlers and the weird time between little kid and teenager. Books that instruct you to love and support your precious gift from Heaven with hugs and participation ribbons; and books that instruct you to beat love into your bundle of joy with fresh sticks plucked from the foliage in the yard..
I’m sorry, I mean ‘spank.’ Nothing says love like a beating, just ask that singer lady. There is vast gulf of difference between smacking a tot’s hand away from something hot and the small, but loudmouthed, contingent of advice givers that seem to take twisted joy in telling people to beat up their kids for any and all infractions.
I’ve noted that the books, blogs and grandparents tend to leave out a subtle but important detail about the rearing of offspring. No matter what you do you will screw up your kids.
That’s right. You are going to do, or not do, something that will mess up your kid. And as a bonus you don’t know what it will be.
Real quick – I’m not talking about sick, crazy people who perpetrate abuse and evil on the venerable and defenseless. Or about trauma beyond anyone’s control. I am talking about the average person’s parenting experience (and this is kind of a comedy piece so let’s keep it light).
Now, for most of us it will be little minor things that in the grand scheme of a life add character to a person. Events that build a personality and are hashed out in therapy. It’s not a question of bad or good parenting. Our actions as parents create a person in conjunction with the environment the child grows up in and their natural personality. But the possibilities eat at my brain. It's hard enough keeping them warm, fed and dry. Now I got this stuff to obsessive over.
Too many hugs for child Number One, and that kid is too emotionally needy later in life. The same number of hugs make Child Two an emotionally balanced person. Then Child Two goes out into a world of emotionally unbalanced people and thinks they are screwed up because they are not screwed up. Way to go dad.
Are you always there for the kid? Do whatever is needed? Always at the game?
Great! You just might create a person that can’t function on their own and never learned to do things for the love of doing them, only to please others. Way to go!
Ironic Rebellion always gets us.
You could dress your kid in a hip outfit for 2nd grade pictures and play the Beatles in the house. Build a Pixies playlist for their first MP3 player and expose them to the history of classic cinema. And they will repay you by worshiping Justin Beieber.
You can try to be ‘cool parents’. Not hide your tattoos. Even tell your kid that when they are older they can have their own. You are going to make sure that they don’t have any hang-ups, man. It’s going to be an open and cool house, but you'll call it the crib. You talk the groovy youth lingo and hang out watching PG-13 movies. And they are only 12! You did good right? Right?
No! If you're lucky all you've done is create ironic rebellion. I hate to break it to you but you just created resurgence in the careers of Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow. Enjoy that wedding in Branson when your daughter marries into an uptight, rural family…man. Hope you have a good time at the reception in their tastefully decorated home that doesn’t smell at all like patchouli oil. Sell outs, they don’t even have a compost pile.
[WATCH OUT FOR SOME 'F' BOMBS IF YOU WATCH THIS-IT'S STILL VERY FUNNY]
What will I do today that will create an anxiety freak-out when my son or daughter is in college? I don’t know, maybe it's because I didn’t do something. Or they misunderstood something.
Maybe he’ll only remember the bad vacation in 2008 when we had to leave him with grandma while he was sleeping so I could take his mother to the ER for emergency gall bladder surgery. He didn’t know where we went and why he was at grandma’s. He then holds onto a nugget of abandonment in his soul for two decades and never comes to me with his feelings and it leads him into a dysfunction relationship that ends bad. Then he is emotionally wounded and that causes him to resent me and fail out of college and…. Okay, gotta knock that off or I’ll have to double my dosage.
I’m going to screw up something. I know it intellectually. I know all I can do is my best and I don't have control over all events everywhere and I can't see the future. But, how to deal with that knowledge?
I guess I will just try my best. Just love my kids and keep them safe and get them what they need to be happy. And hide all the cool stuff from them till they are 20.