Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Monday, January 31, 2011

I wonder if I'm a good parent. I worry my kids feel they can't talk to me. I fear I'm too strict lenient strict.

I know how my childhood affected my behavior as an adult. I've seen the same path in others who were raised in very similar circumstances, and in those who were not. I'm wondering if anyone in the world actually grows up to be a healthy, well-adjusted adult, because I don't know many, and the ones I do know are in middle age and have worked through most of their issues. So what are the chances my kids will grow up healthy? Right now it seems like nothing I do will prevent teen pregnancy, alcoholism/drug abuse, and depression. It's all around me.

Right now the problems are manageable, but how do I know which grain of dysfunction will grow into the pearl of self-destruction?

At times the kids seem to doubt my love. (Well, the older two. The 7-year-old has confidence like I've never seen. So far.) On one level I don't understand how this is possible, with all the sacrifices I've made to be a SAHM and to keep the family together, though logically I know they don't see it because they are children. I try for just the right blend of understanding and stern, make every effort to let them be independent while still being involved, demonstrate that I'm a person of worth and so are they.

But some days it appears I've had that balance wrong this whole time. Or, more likely, there is no ideal balance and the whole thing is hopeless. They are children of the world, and the world chews up children and spits them out all the time. And there's nothing I can do about it.

Reading back over this, I sound a bit manic and controlling. That's not how I feel, I just feel frustrated and a bit lost. Another way to look at this whole situation is that I am doing a good job, and since I can't control how my kids see me, I can just relax.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind today. Anybody got any stories in this vein they'd like to share?


{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Talking to my mother recently. She was telling me about this teenage daughter of her neighbour's. This teenage girl can really throwback the sweet wine. My mother was telling me that this girl might be on the road to a bit of a drinking problem.
    That got me and my mother thinking. There has always been a huge amount of booze in the family home. Not only has there been a lot of wine in the cellar. I'm talking a demijohn of wine at times. Right now, my father keeps his wine in his handmade wine room. The thing holds upwards of over a thousand bottles of wine. It's never been full though, but it was close at one point.
    Every second cabinet in both kitchens (Italians always have a second kitchen in the house) has at least one bottle of booze stored in it. And both kitchens have a wine cooler. One kitchen also has a wine rack.
    There is always booze around the house. Fancy and full bottles of grappa and cognac used as decorations instead of vases and objets d'art.
    All of this booze, just out in the open, nothing locked away.
    But both me and my brother were never the sort to "steal a sip."
    If anything, it's the other way around. At the family Sunday dinner, my father has given up trying to get me to have a glass of wine with everybody else. The only reason he's even opening the bottle of wine is so that it doesn't go to waste. Some wine doesn't age well. My father used to have to force me to have a glass. I don't drink much wine. It's just not something I want to drink. I just have a glass of water or juice at dinner.
    I've never had to be sat down by my parents and told the wrongs of drinking. (They gave me the don't smoke talk though although I've never even taken a puff.)
    Alcohol and other addictive substances has never been an issue in my immediate family. Maybe that can be credited to my mother and father's parenting abilities. Or maybe they just lucked out without having to put in the effort.

  2. I'd love to share a story or two in this vein, but I'm neurotic and paranoid. I can't imagine being LESS secure in what I should be doing. With my life or those of my children.

  3. "Another way to look at this whole situation is that I am doing a good job, and since I can’t control how my kids see me, I can just relax."

    Speaking from the "been there, done that" point of view, this is the way to go. Nothing is harder than parenting. And if you feel that way, you're probably doing a good job.

    We didn't escape the hard stuff- divorce, history of family addiction, the crazy culture. But I have to say, my kids are way more well-adjusted than I was at their age. Self-destruction is not inevitable. And your kids do know that you love them- they are just trying so damn hard to figure life out.

  4. Let me put it this way - bad parents don't wonder if they're good parents. Ever.

    Plus, no one is "well-adjusted." We're all just adjusted. That comes from experience and maturity and learning from our mistakes. If you didn't make mistakes, you'd never learn. And life is a journey - being well-adjusted is a destination. :) You're doing fine and so are your kids. We're all works in progress sweetie, no one's finished yet.


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