Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Perspective Parents

On the drive in this morning I was listening to an episode of This American Life where Molly Ringwold talked about watching The Breakfast Club with her 10 year old daughter for the first time. After they finished the movie Molly asked Mathilda if she related to any of the characters to which she replied "Brian". When asked how and why, she became emotional that she had felt some pressure in the past to perform well in school "but not much or anymore" she added in what seemed an attempt to make her mother feel better. 

The show went on with some talk about things parents have said that hurt their children to one degree or another and it reminded me of a post on the Humans of New York Facebook page. An older gentleman was saying how as a child he felt misunderstood and somewhat mistreated by his parents. Now that he looks back, he realizes that he didn't understand them and maybe he could have been a better son. Humanity is tragic particularly the relationship between parents and children. There is such a disparity in perspective on what is important because of the stages in life both are in that it's like trying to stick two north ends of magnets together: it only creates tension and they cannot share the same space. 

I've nearly finished my book on Malcolm X and was informed by a coworker that the author took a lot of flak when the book came out because it wasn't as flattering in some regards as the image that many people had of Malcolm. You can attempt to create an image for yourself (and may be successful) but people are generally going to see you based off of the information they choose to accept as true and then how they process it. All you can do is be you, live as honestly as possible and hope for the best. I think parent / child relationships would be much better if parents learned to accept their children right from the get go as unique people meant to be understood not molded into what they want. Children are like their own stars being birthed out of an older dying star that will have their own orbit and trajectory. They aren't planets meant to circle you. 

I saw a shirt that said "Rules for dating my daughter: 1. I don't make the rules. 2. You don't make the rules. 3. She makes the rules. 4. Her body, her rules." which falls in line with my thinking. Granted my kids do not live with me but I'll tell them "sex is something that adults do so if you are ready to bear the responsibilities of adulthood then go for it. I will always support you emotionally and love you but you are responsible for the decisions you make". They are going to grow up and think for themselves eventually so why hobble them making it more difficult to catch up later? Also if you are allowed to start making small decisions for yourself failing or succeeding at a young age, maybe you won't make huge errors in judgement when you are on your own. I dont think that guy in NY could really have been a better kid but I understand where he is coming from. People are unique in different ways and if we just accepted that, particularly with our children, the world would be a lot less fucked up of a place. 

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