I had a moment recently with one of my teenagers, but not one of those heart-warming moments that you see on a Hallmark channel movie.
We had to have this “convo” (aka a “conversation” for those of us over 30) because there were some patterns I was seeing her demonstrate that I wanted to address. Nothing too alarming, but enough of an issue that I didn’t want her to grow up with them becoming part of her way of life.
As I was rehearsing in my mind how this was going to go, I had a painful realization. The choices I wanted her to change were some of the same choices I have made, too. It was as if I was seeing my faults and failures reflected back to me in real time…like looking in a mirror. Instantly, the waves of guilt came rolling through my mind as I was thinking:
- How you can you talk to her about that? You’re the reason she acts this way.
- If she is doing these things like you, what other faults will you pass on to your kids?
- You can definitely NOT blame this one on her mother. It is all you.
Maybe you’ve experienced a moment like this, too? If so, something Joan Bruce says many times comes to mind, “Feel the feeling, but do the right thing.” Let me encourage you with these options of some “right things” to do if you find yourself feeling like you’re in this same place.
- Have the conversation. As much as you may want to run from this talk with your child/teen about a particular item that needs to be addressed (with your backpack full of guilt), you need to have the conversation. Perfection is not a requirement for parenting. It is not humanly possible, so please go ahead and put that parenting hope to rest. When you look at the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis from the Bible, the first failure of Adam was that he stood by and didn’t say anything. If he would’ve spoke up and done something, maybe things would have turned out differently.
- They catch the good, not just the bad. Remember that when they catch stuff from you, it is not just your mistakes. There are parts of you that are spectacular being reflected in them, too. So if you are going to own the responsibility for their actions, make sure you also own the good you see.
- Continue your own journey. We will never “arrive,” but we should not stop striving to be our best. It is a gift for them to see how we handle becoming wiser in the midst of our weaknesses. The hardest parent to grow up under is the one that does everything perfectly. Even worse, the one that won’t admit mistakes. Show them how you respond to mistakes and choose to get back up and move forward. They will also grow up and make mistakes; it is best for that to happen while you are close by to guide them through it.
Parenting is about “presence” and not “perfection.” Keep talking to your child/teen, even when you want to run, because communication is where relationships live.