Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's Called Growing Up, NOT Growing Away

Last night, while I lie awake with a million thoughts running through my head, I decided that I would On0Demand a movie (nothing good was on at 2am). So after scanning my choices I decided upon, “Because I said SO”

Although the movie was predictable and stereotypical, there was a scene in the middle of the movie that struck a cord within me.

Diane Keaton (the over protective mother of three, 25+ year old daughters) said, “But when do stop taking care of you? Am I just supposed to let you go and fall flat on your face when you are heading down the wrong path? Oh okay, congratulations on screwing up the rest of your life?”

It really got me thinking.
Actually, I found myself talking in circles.

Do your parents ever stop being your parents? Eventually, they must loosen the belt strap, but when does the relationship change? I sort of satisfied myself with the answer that, parents never stop being parents, but the relationship changes. I guess the conversation changes from parents reminding kids to, “tie your shoes”, “put your homework in your backpack,” “wash your hands before dinner,”, “clean your room”, etc. to things such as, “Did you pay your rent?”, “Did you call to schedule your physical?”, “Did you enroll in benefits?”

However, some things never change. There should always be, “I love yous ”, “Just wanted to check in on you”, “How was your day?”, etc. Conversations topics may be more sophisticated, topics more sensitive, but in my mind there should always be that parental hierarchy.

It used to drive me crazy when my friend's parents acted like their best friend. When I got together with my friends, I wanted to hang out with them, not them plus their mom. Also, when the parent is the child’s best friend, who do they go to for guidance? Certain situations in life require the advice/opinion of the expert (or at least more experienced).

I’m not going to deny it, I hated when I got grounded, was told that I couldn’t do something, or told that my curfew would not be extended; however, one of the greatest gifts that my parents gave me was their trust and patience and fairness. Yes, maybe I earned these privileges, but I always knew that I could go to them. From the time that I was middle school, and the pressures of drinking and reckless behavior emerged, my parents were always there for me. They made it VERY clear that they would not approve of such acts, but that if I did “mess up” and came to them first that they would be fair (i.e. if I was out at a party and made the poor decision to drink, that if I called and jus said, “Please come get me” –no matter what time it was, that the consequences would be a lot less severe than if I made alternative arrangements, lied about where I was going/how I got home, etc).

Although I mentioned above that I don’t think parents and children should be best friends, I do think that they should be friends, close ones. I consider my mom one of my greatest confidants. I know that I can go to her with anything and that she will listen. She may not always agree, but she lets me speak my mind. For that, I am eternally grateful.

From about the 10th grade on, I had a really hard time socially. I was such a people please, that I left people walk all over me, I didn’t stand up for myself, and my self esteem was in the toilet. I hated conflict and would thus suppress my views and opinions simply to avoid an argument. However, once I left for college, I soon learned to listen to what my mom and dad had been telling me all along. It’s okay for people to have differences in opinions…that’s what makes for great conversation, what makes people unique, what keeps the world from being seen in only black and white.
(sorry, that last paragraph was very tangential).

Back to my main point: when do parents stop being parents? Honestly, I don’t think they ever do. I think that the relationship changes. The partners in the relationship begin to relate on a different level, focus on different aspects of life, shift their focus on what is important.

Think about it..

When I was 18, my family went on a vacation to Aruba; I was legal to drink. My dad and I entered a tequila shot contest- we won. (No joke!) From that point on, drinking was an acceptable topic between my dad and I. Although they didn’t openly approve of my drinking in public, wine at the holidays, or a beer at a summer event, was a little less taboo.
When I was 17 horrendous menstrual problems resulted in my going on the birth control pill; from that point on, women’s health issues and safe sexual habits were a more open (but still a little awkward) discussion between me and my mom.
I think you get my point.
This topic could fill volumes and volumes of books. Everyone had a different view on the matter, but I guess that’s what makes it so interesting.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the relationship that I have with my parents. So I leave you with this…think about your relationships with your parents, and with your parents. Yes, maybe you sometimes find yourself thinking, “:Oh my god, I’m turning into my mother/father” but maybe that’s not a bad thing. You turned out okay, didn’t you? Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, but don’t be quick to stomp all over your children’s. Remember what it was like to be in their shoes and recognize that life is a jounrey we must make. A journey that is a lot less scary when you know you have some support.

**note **: If you have been touched by tragedy and no longer have your parents and/or child, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. Relationships, of all lengths, occur for a reason. Take the good and the bad and use it to shape the future..

If you feel that you had a horrible experience, don’t forget that either. Why not speak about, write about, and maybe you can help educate others how to cope better .

1 comment:

O said...

Hi Kel,
Don't think I didn't see this post and think about the stuff you found on my "other" blog!
It gives me hope (and pangs) for how things will evolve as the boys grow.
Thanks for your comments. Can't wait to see you next week either!