Seen any poor parenting recently?

by Rod Smith

It’s easy to judge what appears to be poor parenting: the mother who can’t let go, the dad who can’t say no to a three-year-old, the elderly parent who gets scammed by an adult son or daughter, and on and on and on…..

I’d suggest some caution.

You probably have little idea of what the family has endured to deliver them to this point. What you observe has history, and usually profound history, and the most powerful forces may predate the participants by generations who may themselves be unaware of the generational tides giving rise to the behavior.

We are much, much more than walking catalogs of good and poor choices, of cause and effect and linear simplicity.

When it comes to our families, especially our children, we embody astounding complexity much of which loads our behavior and can steer our reactions.

Of course things are better for all when we are rational and responsive and “responsible” but parenting stirs the primordial being within and he/she is often far from reasonable.

Off-spring, of all ages, usually have inordinate power over parents. They have our number and know our hot buttons. They know we usually ache when they do. They know we have to learn to resist involving ourselves in things that are none of our business.

What you are observing is people on a tight-rope of love, compassion, dreams, desires, successes, heartaches, and failures. Rational behavior, especially to the outside observer, is not always that easy.

The parent is simultaneously trying to enjoy the present, while hoping for the future, and scaling the walls of the past.

Many a parent was never reared with any plan, skill, or imagination. He or she simply “got older” and now, in trying to do better for his or her children, and is fighting battles to which we, the critics, may be absolutely blind.

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