On Sunday my friend Jason posted a blurb to his Facebook, the essence of which was this:
So enraging to know that, well-intentioned or not, the preconceptions, fears, and faulty paradigms that our families saddle us with can be the hardest to overcome.
He mentors a lot of college-age people and this was in reaction to one who had just told her parents that what she wanted to do with her life was not what they wanted for her. Her parents were very disappointed.
Parents of children little and big, I have to tell you something now.
Your child will disappoint you. There will be ways little and big that your child either blunders into trouble or solicits mistakes outright. She will become a teacher instead of a financier. He will marry a woman who insists he convert to Catholicism. She will join the Air Force instead of going to college. He will buy a money pit house and live in squalor for ten years. She will take a job across the country and raise your grandchildren ten states away. He will come home one night during his Junior year of high school and tell you that you are going to be grandparents. She will go to jail for driving drunk and parking her car in the fountain in the park.
We all have pictures in our head of the way things Ought To Be and we work toward those pictures with hope. The trouble is that the children you have may have your brow and your husband’s lips but they are still different people. They will do things that you think are wrong. They will do things that you know are wrong.
Unless they’ve broken the law I would strongly advise you to support them with love. After all, if they’ve chosen a path you disagree with won’t they need even more support? It’s one thing to train up a child in the way he should go and quite another to crush that child’s spirit so that they become solely motivated by fear.
I give this advice not as a parent but as the Kid Who Screwed Up. I’m the one who dropped out of college and got married instead of going to law school as planned. I’m the one who had the library police come to our house to collect a long overdue copy of Skywalking: The Life And Films Of George Lucas. I’m the one who hid a used copy of The Shining under the living room couch to read in secret. I’m the one who kept bringing home cats.
I have a good relationship with my parents now. For awhile there it was rough going, as it often is with parents and firstborn. If my parents had not been loving and supportive this story might have had a different ending. I could be one of those people who becomes an atheist and only returns home for her parents’ funerals.
My life didn’t go the way my parents envisioned, and your kids’ lives probably won’t go the way you want either. But I am content. That’s a big word and that’s a deeper satisfaction than many people ever find. Please, if you have a child, learn to hope for the goals of contentment and God’s Will and abiding faith and resist pushing them down a path.