I started to post this on Facebook, to share a link on my wall and make a comment, but decided that’s not nearly sufficient. Social media has been stealing my blogging mojo lately. I was complaining to my husband how I don’t have the motivation to post on my blogs about a my recent trip road trip and he said something like, “Mentally, you’re already done sharing that experience because you’ve posted your pictures and comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” Bingo.
But this? This needs more than a Facebook share. It’s something I struggle with daily. I read a lot of blogs and come across sorrow and tragedy more than I want. This woman found her three year old dead in his bed Sunday morning. After reading the Facebook comments, it seems that he died from a virus. Gone. Just. Like. That.
These stories make your heart break. You run to your kids and hold them close. But then? Maybe 6 hours later? You might be yelling at your kids or at least feeling very annoyed at them for something. You might be demanding they do something that will be good for them in the long run. You might be training them to be good, responsible adults, even if what you’re expecting of them is making them extremely unhappy. You might be spending the precious, short time you have with your children arguing about things that must be done so that they can grow up to be well-adjusted, productive human beings.
What if they never grow up? What if they die before they can apply to college? What if YOU die? Will it really matter if your child had three extra cookies before bed or dropped out of a class that you really, really wanted them to work harder at?
Of course, it’s not that simple. For the majority of us, our kids will grow up and live a long life. And it’s our responsibility to teach them the skills to succeed. This is where I feel a giant parenting chasm. Many people feel that kids need to learn to do things they don’t want to do. Because life is like that – you often have to do things you don’t really want to do, but need to in order to survive. But is this a lesson that really needs to be taught? Do we have to make our children miserable to ingrain in them a sense of survival and responsibility? Or is that innate?
I guess what I have the biggest problem reconciling is what exactly will help my children be happy, successful adults. There is no cut-and-dry answer to that question. Will schooling and chores make a child grow to be an educated, responsible, successful adult? Not always. Will “spoiling” a child make him happy? Not always. It’s a balance, and one that is far from clearly defined. A child who grew up with unlimited resources could end up in prison just as easily as a child who grew up living in the slums.
I think I’ll always struggle with that chasm. Cuddling with my kids and doing whatever makes them happy because I have no idea how long it’ll all last vs. demanding things of them that will help them become educated, responsible adults.
I do know that unconditional love will go a long way toward closing the chasm. Love them, no matter what. And let them know it. It’s tough to hug a moody teenager who’s telling you she hates you. Do it anyway. Love on your kids every day. Every minute.