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Children and young people are always growing and changing. Parents, however, sometimes need to take the effort to grow with them.

A lot of parents seem stuck with their idea of who they want their child to be, or who they remember the child as--often as a literal baby, helpless and dependent, so easy to project the parents' hopes and perceptions on.

I kind of get why parents don't forget their children's very young childhoods, I think? It really is a precious and unforgettable time, when you're bonding with this brand-new being soul to soul as you get to know each other. It's a time of unbearable sweetness that will never come again, because no matter how many children or grandchildren you have that particular child will only be young once. No wonder it leaves an indelible mark in the parent as well as the child.

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A parent's unwillingness to know one's child past their childhood becomes increasingly willful and strains the parent-child relationship, sometimes to breaking point. This is painful for both but in the long run the parent has much more to lose, and the loss of a genuine emotional relationship with the child is likelier to be a deep and abiding regret for the parent than the child.

Again, I think I get why this is. A child growing up and no longer needing the parent like before, and not being the person the parent might have imagined, can be a painful loss of control. The parent must find a new sense of identity, going from someone who was the child's whole world to just a part of it. Many parents undergo this transition gracefully and rejoice in it. Others, sadly, do not.

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tips for meddling parents 

It's not an easy situation when the parent refuses to meet their child where the child is and insists on living in the past or in fantasy. For those who do wish to break this pattern or not fall into it, these tips may help:

1. Cultivate identity, interests, and sense of meaning beyond being a parent and needing someone to be dependent on you. This may also help you avoid becoming an annoying "gimme my grandkids" whiner. Your parenting days are done!! Get over it!!

2. Rethink and challenge your own concept of what makes a good life. The world is always changing, and what worked when you were young might no longer work. Your child is also not you (I know, shock!!) and what worked for you might not work for them. If your child's life isn't actually off kilter, they don't need you to fix it for them.

3. Understand and know your child as who they are, not who you wished they were or the small child you remember them to be. Your child is so much more than your fond hopes could have conjured up, and that's a blessing! Get to know this wondrous, unique person you had the luck of bringing into the world and/or raising to adulthood. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and for God's sake get a hobby outside of meddling in their life.

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@ljwrites IMO part of it is that the parent(s) think of the child as some sort of artefact that they build, form, and with luck, release into Life, as their little work of art. They probably bring in a lot of dreams, plans, wishes and preconceptions about what a good family and nice happy kids are into their parenting. But when your little sculpture grabs the hammer and the chisel themselves, it's hard to put down one's vision for their little chef-d'oeuvre, and share or yield the authorship.

@ljwrites

also, many parents think their children are to be a "mini-me" (of themselves) instead of a child being their own independently minded being ...

letting go so difficult for many ... especially letting go when you may feel your children are making a mistake

@js0000 and they have a vested interest in believing their children are making a mistake, too, for the reasons you state. I have been there, like, soooo much.

@ljwrites
this is one of many lessons parents can be taught by their children ...

i suspect you are doing as best you can with them ... that's really all you can do!

💛💙💜

@js0000 After decades of trying I concluded my one remaining parent has no interest in learning or changing and stopped talking to him about anything that matters :/ but others may still be able to salvage their relationships.

@ljwrites
sure ...

i was thinking more of you with your own children- but then again, you are someone's child too ...

oddly enough, i feel very similar towards my mother to the way you describe feeling about your father

at a certain point, a person may decide their (limited) energy is best spent elsewhere

(also, thank you for these and your other insightful toots, i find them evocative)

@js0000 oh, my own kid is absolutely teaching me so much! I'm learning about unconditional love and challenging my own ideas from him, he's such a wonderful kiddo 💚 If I have a better relationship with him than I had with my parents I'll consider my life a success.

Thank you so much for your kind words! It's good to know others went/are going through this and that I'm not alone :blobcathappy:

@js0000 @ljwrites

This reminds me of a Persian poem by Kahlil Gibran:

https://poets.org/poem/children-1

Snippets:
"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you."

"You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you."

"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth."

#poetry

@wmd Oh I absolutely love that poem (and the entirety of The Prophet) and was just about to boost an excerpts posts I made a while back! One correction, though--Gibran was Lebanese and not Persian, so far as I know.

@ljwrites You are indeed correct. I think I was thinking Persia because I was researching the region which was the ancient Persion empire when I ran into them. Lebanon being part of the region. :)

@wmd so you're right in a roundabout way long ago! The Sasanids endorse this post, 10/10.

@photonicfae I'm sorry that is the case for you 😭 It is for me, too.

@photonicfae It is what it is 🤷‍♀️ at least I have lots of other good, emotionally rich relationships and I'm thankful for that 💜

@ljwrites I think the parent has more to lose than the child too because most of us don't expect to have our parents with us our whole lives, and some lose their parents to death much sooner than others. To some extent, people who end up estranged from their parents because they're gay or whatever have a experience analogous to people whose parents died young.

But a parent expects to have a child in their life for all the rest of it, and they can feel entitled to that.

@bright_helpings the expression "dead to me" exists for a reason lol. There was a book of advice from older people to young people put together by a sociologist (it's really not as bad as it sounds!) and it specifically mentioned estranged relationships with children, especially for being gay, as an abiding regret of parents that they cautioned others to avoid.

Yet another reason parents have more to lose is that they will grow older and sicker, and their social circles will shrink due to deaths and social isolation. They will often come to need their grown children more than their children need them, and it's such a tragedy if the relationship is no longer there or distant and formal.

tips for meddling parents 

@ljwrites on point two, a parent first needs to understand that the life they have was not the only way to get to that life. So even if they know what result the child wants, there is not a single right way to get there.

tips for meddling parents 

@ljwrites Yup. I'm 43 and my parents are still working on items 2 & 3. Progress is being made, but it's slow. And of course it's when they do manage to treat me as my own person that we get closer.

tips for meddling parents 

@eldang oof going on 42 and kinda resigned to the fact that it'll never happen with my dad lol. I'm glad your parents are at least working on it and your relationship has a shot!

tips for meddling parents 

@ljwrites Blech, sorry. As you say, at least mine are trying.

tips for meddling parents 

@eldang Yeah, I've made my peace with it. It's why I'm always happy to see good parents and parents who are trying ❤️

tips for meddling parents 

@ljwrites And in the same vein, I'm glad for Tater's sake that you're so conscious of the issue. I do think it's a trap parents can avoid falling into, if they stay mindful of it.

tips for meddling parents 

@eldang yup, I believe we parents owe it to our kids to do better! It's a personal goal to have a better relationship with my kid than I did with my parents, though it's a low bar lol.

tips for meddling parents 

@ljwrites

Stealing some exotic matter and negative energy to construct a wormhole to send this toot to my mom in the past.

tips for meddling parents 

@emma may she get it 😭

Toxic relationships discussion, parenting 

@ljwrites I'm on the parent end of this. Grown son and I aren't quite estranged, but we're distant, even living half an hour from each other.

I tell myself that part is because of my toxic relationship with his mother (she was abusive to both him and me), who had sole custody during his adolescence.

I never attacked her to him, but she did not reciprocate that. After he was 18, I told him I'd share my perspective on those years, but only if he asked. He never has.

It's hard, especially when I feel I have useful perspective to offer with his untreated mental illness. But I work to respect his boundaries.

Toxic relationships discussion, parenting 

@naga I'm so sorry :( one of the less-discussed aspects of abuse is the splash-over effects with other relationships. I'm effectively estranged from my mother's side of the family and also from my brother due to the stresses my dad put on those relationships. Basically my whole blood family became a toxic zone for me after decades of my dad poisoning us all against each other, and it's impossible to know where to even start undoing the damage--so I don't even try, to my shame.

I think my dad, thin-skinned as many abusers are, was threatened by the idea of any us being close to each other and possibly ganging up on him. Seriously he was always shit-talking his own family to other members of his family ever since I can remember, and now that his kids are married he tears down his in-laws, it's incredible. Long after we've largely cut him out of our lives the wounds persist, and we almost have a tacit agreement I think to move on without talking about it. I can't imagine how hard it is when a casualty of this is a parent-child relationship.

Toxic relationships discussion, parenting 

@ljwrites Yeah, she caused a lot of collateral damage. I'm just glad we only had one kid, tbh.

@ljwrites

Serious question, why don’t you have a dedicated parenting blog??

@winter hmm good point, I'd be less annoying than Untigering at any rate (I mean it makes some good points but the title is so gimmicky!)

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Rage.love

Generalist Hometown instance with a strong focus on community standards. No TERF, no SWERF, no Nazi, no Centrist.