Ghosts of Parenting Past

Although I’m not an empty-nester yet (thankfully!) I do have sons who are newly minted adults. I’m entering a stage where all of the decisions they make for themselves, whether good or bad, feel like a reflection of my past parenting decisions.

Nothing is harder for me as a parent than seeing a young twenty-something I raised make poor decisions for any length of time. It feels as if every dumb ass thing they do is like an accusatory ghost, wagging her finger in my face and shouting about all the things I did wrong when they were young. The Man and I have been doing a lot of self reflection lately. What could we have done better? Where did we screw up (the most, ha, cuz we screwed up a lot). We’ve internalized blame for another adults bad decisions because we raised them with the hopes of sparing them as much of the pain of those decisions as we could. It has been painful but necessary. Not because we can do anything about our past actions, but because we can try to identify our mistakes and avoid making them with this last kid. This has basically been the story of his life. The older boys think it’s favoritism, but trust me, it’s lessons learned.

I’m pretty much done beating myself up. I made mistakes, yes but I did the best I could at the time and I made it a point to tell them and show them how much I loved them as often as possible. For now, I can continue to say I love you and I can step back and wait for them to figure some of this adulting out for themselves. I made some pretty dumb decisions myself as a twenty something, and I’m not half bad. I just thought maybe I’d done a better job of showing them that they could struggle less than I had if they just listened to what I said and watched me be upwardly mobile during their childhood. 

I’m not saying these indecisive times in their lives are harbingers of a life of endless struggle. It’s just that I know that potential isn’t being met and it’s causing me distress and causing them some strife and unhappiness. I’m looking eagerly forward to when this stage of the game is over.

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