I’m sure many parents of teens dream of someday saying about their grown child: “He’s doing so well. He’s a really, really smart guy.” (Or gal…)
And they hope their grown child says about them, “I had such great parents. They helped me so much.”
Because this would mean that all their love, support and sacrifices paid off.
As a writer about parenting, I sometimes think about my own parents. I have many fond memories about my childhood, as weird as it was. My parents loved me. I always knew that. They never abused me in any way. And they cared about my success. Without a doubt, they were good parents. I think they were always trying to do the best they could.
But to be honest, I wouldn’t say they were great parents. They never thought about parenting as such and never considered learning to be better parents. They weren’t great communicators. Neither of them were college graduates, and neither had above-average minds. My mother was a high school dropout.
So even though I loved them, they weren’t my role models. I never thought I wanted to be like my mom or my dad. I grew up the oldest child in a family of eight children, and my parents were usually busy looking after my younger siblings. We lived a lower-middle-class lifestyle, and my parents couldn’t afford to send any of us to college. They didn’t see that as their responsibility, and they made no plans to help us with higher education. Only one of my sisters and I graduated from college.
And I have no memory that they passed along any wisdom or life skills of any kind. After I left home, I quickly realized that I had a lot of catching up to do. And now, half a century later, I still find myself learning things that I could have learned when I was a teenager. The best thing I got from my dad was a love of sports, which was a great legacy. From my mom, I got the freedom to go where I wanted to go and do what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. Sometimes that freedom nearly landed me in serious trouble, but I was lucky. And that freedom helped shape my self-confidence, independence and creativity.
So even though I had good parents and I always loved them and they always loved me, I could never say, “I had such great parents. They helped me so much.”
But that is one of the fondest wishes of many parents of teens – that years later their grown child will have these thoughts.
This is why I write. I write for the parents who care enough to do the work to be the best parents they can be for their teens.