An Open Letter To Parenthood

When (if) I have kids, I intend to write them a letter before their births or possibly just after their births.  Why?  I want to apologize for messing him, her, or them up.  I want to let my children know that I intend to try my very best to raise them right, but I can’t control everything.  I’m not necessarily sure there is such a thing as the right way to raise a child.  I mean, if such a method existed wouldn’t it be more commonplace? I don’t know what I’ll do wrong or how I will mess them up, but I’ve realized that I believe I am going to in some way, shape, or form.  In this letter, though, I want to be clear that it isn’t my intent.  I honestly will do everything I can to be the best parent I can be–as best as I know.  Again, the thing is, there is no real hand book on how to raise a child or children.  Yes, plenty of money sucking how-to books exist, but again no foolproof formula is percolating through parenthood.  Instead, it’s going to be a constant battle of trial and error.  Somethings will work; others will not.  It’s just how life works.  Somethings that worked on me will be useful but not everything.  Life is too random and natural law is too volatile for things to work without a rate of failure.  Down the road, I believe my child/ren will blame me for some mishap, insecurity, etc. but I want them to understand I didn’t do it purposefully.  Finally, I intend to tell them I understand that this letter won’t make much sense to them at first, and they will probably think I’m seeking to justify my ineptitudes, but one day I believe they will understand where I am coming from.

Our Parents

Some people have really awesome families.  These people love to talk about familial experiences; they love to have people over; they genuinely look forward to parenthood so they can be the type of parents their parents were to them.  Other people aren’t as lucky.  These people remain quiet when discussing home life; they don’t have people over; and they fret about pending parenthood (or don’t want to be parents in general).  I’m really broadening the spectrum here, but let me qualify and specify a little more before you jump to conclusions.  I am not trying to insinuate that a happy family means someone will definitely want to be a parent or vice versa.

I’m just throwing out some generalities.  Some of our parents are really, truly great.  Others, not so much.  What we need to realize (I believe) is that the parents who fall short of our standards may not intentionally do so.  Yes, I realize that some parents make conscious decisions to neglect their responsibilities, but I’d venture to believe (optimistically) that many parents who struggle do so with good underlying intentions.

Regardless of where someone feels their childhood falls, in terms of how his or her parent(s) are, I’ve found a commonality: the parent(s) have messed them up.  I say messed them up somewhat loosely here.  What I mean is that I don’t think I have heard an individual not blame his or her parent(s) for something wrong with them.  Whether is be they are too shy, or too untrusting, or too competitive, or not good enough, etc.  Kids blame their parents, which makes sense to a point.  It’s generally agreed upon a person is composed of a combination of nature and nurture, so parents play an undeniable role in our development.

One Day We’ll Learn

Since so many people feel this way to some extent (some to a larger scale than others), I’ve come to a conclusion.  It’s an inevitable fact of life that parents are going to mess up.  For all the parents out there, I don’t mean this negatively, although it surely sounds pessimistic and argumentative.  I’m just saying, no matter how great of a parent you are, you are going to mess up with something.  We are finite, imperfect beings for a reason.  It’s just the nature of life.  Even bad parents are going to strike gold or do something well.  It’s a natural balance that exists.  As I’ve said before, besides the obvious outliers I think most parents genuinely try hard to do a good job and have the utmost amiable intentions.

As kids who aren’t parents yet, I think it’s hard to realize this fact somethings.  We can’t really know what it’s like to have such a great responsibility bestowed upon us until it happens.  Sure, we can imagine how much better we will be as parents or what we will do differently, but that’s all imagination, not reality.  I honestly believe that once (if) we become parents empathy will flow freely.  Yes, we may learn and do things differently, but we aren’t going to be perfect.  We will hit rough patches; we will mess up.  It happens, though.  Our parents tried. You will try.  It doesn’t mean you should avoid parenting. I’m just saying as kids we need to realize that yes things happened, but things happen to everyone.  As parents, we (will) need to realize that mistakes will be made.  We just need to learn from the mistakes or do as best as we can.  Love fully and give yourself completely.

Our parents have tried, are trying, and will try to give us the best life they can.  It doesn’t always work, but I really think we sometimes forget how difficult it can be for them.

So, yes, my future kids: I will mess up.  I’m sorry, but just know that I will love you to the best of my capabilities and I will do everything in my power to make sure you understand that (without suffocating you of course).  This life we live is sure crazy, but together we’ll make the best one we can. TC mark

image – familymwr

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