Parenting regrets bubbling up?
Since the new millennium, what I term "rearview-mirror parenting" has precipitated in parents a sobering self-appraisal of how successfully they raised their children. Myers-Briggs probably won't venture to offer online assessment tools for that because I doubt many people really want to know their percentile. With the advent of Facebook, life's complaints are a thing of the past anyway. Yet friends with tales from Worry Land are semi-privately sharing their concerns — some straightforwardly and others cryptically with furrowed brow. Here are some examples.
Some years back, our financial adviser was going through a divorce. We asked how his children were handling it. "You know," he said, "kids are resilient." Is that not quintessential morning talk-show therapeutics? When normal life patterns are decidedly interrupted, people retreat to buzz clichés to cope.
We have friends whose adult children have moved in with their significant others. Our friends chuckle with elevated eyebrows. "Nobody seems in a hurry to get married anymore," they say. Some of our friends' sons and daughters are having their first child, and the mom is the daughter's event coordinator, planning the wedding and the baby shower simultaneously. When we enthused, "That's great," we could sense their unease that the time-honored carts and horses lacked order and foresight.
A friend of my wife posted that her adult son was doing some wonderful charity work and that even atheists can do good works. It was a kind of "whoa!" moment as we pondered her response to a gauntlet no one had thrown down — a confession of sorts without an explanation. I wondered if her son was on the thread.
A couple we know and adore went so far as to abandon their church and religion altogether after their adult daughter dumped her marriage and then "came out." She convinced her parents to leave their church because it is not "woke" about her lifestyle change. The parents believed that it was more important to support their daughter. Quite the leap of faith.
I get it. I am not standing in the shoes of any of the aforementioned friends. It is not particularly Christian to voice unsolicited opinions, but that doesn't mean I don't mull over their predicaments and look for meaning.
My wife and I have not faced those particular parenting challenges. We have several children happily married with families, jobs, and trials with which they struggle to cope. We assist as we can. In the end, though, they solve their own problems in ways where they are not permanently derailed or spiritually haunted.
My wife and I believe we owe our success to God's graces and to a waning world where parents taught and instilled in us the life patterns for success.
Although all parents have struggles, some struggles seem more complicated than they need to be. Parents are not as firmly grounded as they imagine. They unwisely trust the echo chamber of our postmodern civilization to be a sufficient store and conduit of wisdom. It beguiles parents. Their job seems easier. Maybe, they told themselves, the best thing we can do for our child is get out of the way and let the "resources" raise them. Too many parents appear dazed and confused that their Millennial-and-beyond children, upon seeing a cart before a horse, just see it as a new normal.
Spruce Fontaine is a practicing artist and occasional livestream co-host.
Image via Needpix.