Thursday, January 25, 2007


I have a co-worker/friend, (ok, she's really my boss) who moved back into her parent's home at 32 due to some unfortunate circumstances which happened to her. Life just crashed down around her and she needed/ welcomed the support, love, and guidance of home. Well, now 4 years later, she is trying to leave again and is finding herself incredibly disillusioned and frustrated with them. For their part, they just can't seem to let her go and call/e-mail her about the most minuscule of things. (for example: the absolute crime of leaving dirty dishes in the dishwasher during the day.)

So, I was talking to her about this the other day and asked her, "Is this the first time in your life, you've ever been disillusioned with your parents?" She said something interesting, she said, "No, when I was 18, 19, 20, I went through this. I told them to stay out of my life, I was 4 hours away and was going to do what I wanted. But, back then, I was such a pain in the ___ that they were happy to send me away."

I was thinking about this and my own experiences and have decided that during the phase between 18-20 and sometimes for much longer, I think almost everyone- if not everyone- despises their parents. It seems to be a universal stage of development that everyone goes through. In some weird way, I guess it's even an important experience in order to break out of the nest and build your own world. It's as if at that age- for the first time, you can see all of your parents screw ups, but you're still too young to know that you are a screw-up too. You haven't realized yet that this whole world somehow runs in spite of the fact that most people aren't that competent. (Heck, apparently, I don't even know how to spell competent. Thank goodness for spell checker.) So, at 19 a person can critically analyze every mistake their parents ever made, but they are still comparing their parents to this imaginary fairy tale super-human parent. They haven't yet crashed and burned enough times to realize that NO ONE is competent. (Misspelled it again.)

My point... I wonder if it helps our children later on, if we are honest about our imperfections early. Eventually they are going to figure out that we aren't super-human! Is it better to let them down easy? Right now, to Ian, I look like this all-knowing, all-powerful super woman. I can do anything, I know just what to do, and when to do it. He has no idea that I don't know what I'm doing.

The other day, Ian was touching a shelf of DVDs that is "forbidden" because we don't want them scattered throughout the house. Dave told him "No". Ian walked away obediently, but was clearly upset. His feelings were hurt and Dave just couldn't figure out why. Now, this wasn't a protest cry, this was a "But Dad, I just don't understand" cry. Upon further investigation, Dave learned that Ian was pointing to a Baby Einstein DVD which he is absolutely aloud to watch whenever he wants. Ian wasn't trying to play in forbidden territory, he was trying to make a simple request. Dave lovingly apologized, asked him to sign, "Please", and put it on. My point, We don't always know what is going on in Ian's head, so sometimes we accidentally hurt his feelings. His feelings are important and occasionally he deserves an apology when we can't read his mind. Not necessarily because we did something wrong, but because we love our child and it hurts his feelings when people don't understand. Maybe a little understanding and a few sorries in these years might help to decrease the beating he will dish out to us when he is 18-20. We'll see. :)


  1. Anonymous16:58

    I read something that said parents are just like Oz behind the curtain until their kids look behind the curtain.

  2. You're right on. Seriously, just wait until the point in his life when he realizes he is a separate person from you - can make own decisions, disobey, etc. You'll go nuts! But at the same time, that phase passes and you and up with a child that more and more can surprise you and make you laugh and smile. Its part of growing up but man is it a womper.