When? For most of us the automatic response is NEVER!
But as our offspring grow from toddlers to teens and finally branch out on their own as adults, our roles do change drastically. So often it seems as if our children challenge everything from the moment they can say their first words so we should be used to it when they become rebellious teens. By the time they are young adults you are pretty much considered the cute but doddering old person who is now ready to switch out on who changes whose diaper.
Let’s begin with WHAT is a parent (mom or dad) — parents should do their best to ensure the health and safety of the child; parents teach by example; a parent sets rules, explains them with more than just “because”, and doles out appropriate consequences if they are not followed; parents help the child learn problem solving and decision making; parents help teach responsibility, assign chores and allow their child to deal with penalties when they shirk responsibilities; parents encourage goal setting; and a parent teaches that respect is a two-way street. Most of all parents need to provide unconditional love and constant emotional support without making a big deal of it.
The end-game is to teach our young to grow to become independent adults who can make their own decisions, take care of themselves, and pursue their own visions. Ideally, even while our child’s growth makes us (feel) obsolete and useless, we should continue living our own lives without guilt, without worry, and hopefully without having to “bail” our kids out of jams. IMPOSSIBLE.
We never stop worrying and wanting to be part of our children’s lives, and we should be content to live vicariously without stealing any of their glory. Sometimes it takes some of the burden off of our shoulders when we know they have someone to go through life with, to take care of AND be taken care of. And while we are not responsible for the mistakes they may make, it is inconceivable for us to stay silent and try, TRY, to guide them… besides they don’t want to listen anyway.
We never stop loving our children or feeling a “knife” twist in our hearts when we know they are hurting. Even when our offers of advice and help get turned down FLAT, we still push at least a little even when we have to suffer their wrath. If we have faith, we pray non-stop others, burn candles and fashion amulets, and still others may resort to bribes. A parent would do anything to make sure his or her child is happy, safe and accepted.
In addition to accepting the fact that we seem to be constant embarrassments to our offspring, we need to always be there just in case they do decide they want us. We live for the moments when they do seek our opinions.
A parent’s job is NEVER done.