I spend time these days, feeling disconcerted with, and discombobulated by, my kids. I seem to disagree (I hesitate to say argue, since arguing implies a give and take of words…) with my adult children about a lot of things; personal, political, spiritual and parental. I am a difficult person; I would be the first to admit it. I am opinionated, loud (partly because my hearing loss makes it difficult to regulate the timbre of my voice) and not the type, in personality or upbringing, to say, “yes, dear.” I consider myself well-educated, albeit mostly in the school of hard knocks, via massive amounts of reading and interaction with others. But I also consider myself open-minded, loving, giving and appreciative (mostly) of the opinions of others. I try to be respectful and forthright at the same time… a difficult task, admittedly.
Yet my children drive me mad. Why? Sigh, I am not so sure. I have learned, mostly in the last five years, to temper my expectations and assumptions. Certainly my assumptions have gotten me into major trouble in the past, for I had a tendency to assume that certain things were so, or would be so, because I believed in the idea, concept or action. YYSSW* Yet, I have been open to evaluating and changing my behaviors, based on what I have discovered about myself and my family members. This willingness, openness, doesn’t seem to go both ways though.
It may all be part of the generational difference, with which all parents struggle. For my parents, the difference between a generation post-depression and post-WWII, and my anti-military, anti-war, baby-boomer viewpoints seemed vast and sometimes insurmountable. I get that. But I never stopped valuing or at least paying some form of attention to my parents, respect being one of the things most important to my parents in our give and take. A friend and fellow hippie slash poet-writer, Diana Carson May-Waldman, part of World Wide Hippies, posted this on Facebook the other day…
I was raised to say please & thank you, to have respect for my elders, lend a helping hand to those who were in need, hold the door for the person behind me, say excuse me when it was needed, and to LOVE PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE, not for what you can get from them! I was also taught to treat people the way I want to be treated!!
These values seem to have been lost in translation in my child-rearing of my own two.(Who are, for those who don’t know, 29 and 31) I raised them to speak their minds, to have their own opinions but to always value family. I didn’t quite get the message through, though. I reposted Diana’s statement, and the only people who commented or “liked” my statement were co-conspirators in the baby boomer/hippie generations. My children mostly treat me with amused tolerance. It is both annoying and saddening to realize that I have speciously exceeded my expiration date as far as my opinions and perspectives having value in their eyes.
So why am I writing about this? Because it is my blog, and I feel like ranting about my behavior that has led, perhaps, to this lack of respect, of value, and yes, importance in the eyes of my children! I fully understand that our relationship to our parents changes as we age, and that in order to grow and develop as adults, we need to learn to rely on ourselves, and to form our own opinions and core values. This is important. As an orphan, though, (my father died in 1978, my mother in 2005) I have regrets, mostly unresolved, about things not said or done. I had much respect for my parents’ accomplishments, and found them inspirational and still do.
I’d like to have that with my children. Now, rather than later, when it might be too late for me to enjoy and appreciate it. But there is little I can do to encourage it, besides remain available, accessible, consistent and reliable in my love and affection. It is a case, perhaps, of wanting my cake and eating it too – for what is wrong, after all, with wanting to be loved, respected and appreciated by those to whom I gave birth?!
What about your journey of parenting? Has it been a road of travail and drama, or has it been a comfortable easy passage? Do all parents go through what I have been going through in the last five years, or do they let go easier, move forward with a calmer mien, and accept their displacement in the lives of their children with greater ease and comfort than I have experienced? I am past the “empty nest syndrome” and not wanting involvement in my kids’ day to day life… instead, I want an adult relationship, a give and take that gives credit and respect to my experiences and skills, and honors my position as an elder statesman (woman) so-to-speak!
If wishes were horses…
*YYSSW means Yeah, Yeah, Sure, Sure, Whatever (a form of net lingo, used in chat or text messages as abbreviations. See Net Lingo.com
Picture credit – If wishes were horses – Diana Lancaster Art Gallery – www.dianalancaster.com
World Wide Hippies Logo – www.worldwidehippies.com