Embrace Them For Who They Are

by Richard

One of the hardest parts about raising young dudes and dudettes to adulthood is that we have to, at some point, let go. After all, that’s the whole purpose of parenting: raise them as best your able and then let them go out on their own to start making their own mistakes.

It’s difficult when those kids who you’ve been feeding and guiding and mentoring for so many years start to act in ways you know you didn’t teach. Sometimes that can be something as silly as liking your arch rival’s college football team instead of your own, to something as serious as going out and stealing stuff, or worse.

As much as it hurts to admit this, young dudes and dudettes aren’t simply the sum of the bits we cram into them. They have their own thing or thirty-two to say and, by golly, they’re going to do so. Often. And loudly. So what can we do to offset this?

Absolutely nothing.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Contrary to what some parents might believe or hope for, children are not born a blank slate. Rather, they come into the world with predetermined abilities, proclivities and temperaments that nurturing parents may be able to foster or modify, but can rarely reverse.

The goal of parenting should be to raise children with a healthy self-image and self-esteem, ingredients vital to success in school and life. That means accepting children the way they are born — gay or straight, athletic or cerebral, gentle or tough, highly intelligent or less so, scrawny or chubby, shy or outgoing, good eaters or picky ones.

The above came from a really nice opinion piece by Jane E. Brody that ran in The New York Times earlier in November. It got me to thinking, especially considering it was sent to me by my dad. I wonder if he was trying to say something about me? No, probably not. It’s difficult to critique perfection.
Trying to fit children into a predetermined mold, deciding what they will like and what they won’t, is a mug’s game, argues Ms. Brody. And I have to agree with her.
Differences, no matter how annoying, should be celebrated. It’s our differences that make us who we are. If we were all the same, wouldn’t life be boring as snot? We’d never have a surprise, never hear a passing remark that allows us to see the world in a new way.
That’s teens, really. We raise them, teach them, love them and then let them go. And, once free, we can begin to marvel and the wonderful and unique being standing before us. And then wonder why they keep asking for our car keys.

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