Tuesday 5 March 2019

Thought Picnic: In sympathy with dashed parental expectations

How they strive
I guess I am one to feel great sympathy for parents, the people who have through the years borne responsibilities whilst striving to ensure that the difficulties and hardships they suffered do not impact on us as much as they can.
The expectations are high, their aspiration even amid the turmoil and turbulence of life to hope that their wards have a considerably better life than they ever had. It becomes the measure of their success to see that happen.
Yet, they realise too late that their offspring is individualistic and unique, independent of thought and aims to the point that they forget when to yield control to this growing object of their once cooing affections who has reached adolescence and then adulthood.
When we fail
Despite their well laid out plans, a child might eventually deviate from the project and offer deliverables that would excite from deep shame and disappointment to effusive pride. No destiny is written anywhere, but the product is a sum of many influences, the parents mostly in the formative years and community, society and beyond shaping the person who emerges.
What does a parent do when a child fails when it appears all opportunities offered have been squandered? The reactions are myriad, some display their disappointment in displeasure leading to estrangement, some find some way to understand the too many factors that might have contributed to that situation, but there is no one answer to that question, it is a tough one.
God help the child through whom their parents intend to live out their dreams. Pushed at every end to perform and excel to the point of exhaustion and resentment. The child becomes one time grateful and at another time hateful. It is not usually a case of the mismanagement of the child, but it can affect relationships.
Knowing the times
The transition of parents from providers and protectors through advisors and confidants to lasting friendships is not one that many parents and children travel. When stuck in the phase of the protector, emotional blackmail ensues, a conversation gets heated and what you hear next is, 'after all, I have done for you?' – add your suffix statement to the end of the sentence.
At the point the parent transitions to an advisor, very useful in development years but aware of the fact that advice is useful, but the decisions are not theirs to take, there is scope for the improvement of relationships towards a respectful distance and understanding that engenders friendship.
Pragmatism allows certain parents to frame their somewhat and sometimes unwelcome advice in helpful and considerate phrasing that brings their ward onside rather than ostracise them.
There would always be issues and areas of life where the parent and child would disagree, that again is a realisation of the fact that genetic provenance does not equate to carbon copy clones of the parent in spirit, soul, and body. That would be unsettling, eerie, and concerning.
From left field
A child would make choices they want to make, some things parents might think are choices might well be a predisposition that child has no control over and nothing the parents could have done in the past could have changed who that child is.
Care should be taken to not attempt to force the child to adhere to particular requirements to satisfy some personal, societal, religious, or communal need. Outlooks would always differ, even at the best of times.
Then comes the question, how does a parent handle sexuality issues, if your child is bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transsexual? That is probably the toughest reality some parents would have to face about their child. Sadly, the shock and confusion that follows can lead to the utterly irrational. The child was no less your child between the day before you knew and the day after it all blasted you in the face.
Dealing in
I could imagine the things running through the mind of a parent and it would be a world of thoughts and expectations, many of which would be dashed because of that revelation. The child would go on to live their lives however they choose if the parent does not do something utterly stupid.
At that point, your acceptance or rejection of your child would not change the state of affairs, and any undue exertion of power or authority would just drive the child into a more accepting environment of the reality of who they are. Some parents would never know the journey of guilt, doubt, angst, despair, fear, and denial that child has scraped through to the point of learning to love themselves enough to express who they are.
What do some parents do? They curse, they swear, they disown, they harm, they fight against it and seek to alter the course of nature. The nature that science has already proven is inherent in the humanity of a child is discounted for the fanciful idea that the child has chosen a lifestyle. If indeed it were a lifestyle, but this is really a life and people have to live with the fact of who they are separate from what others including their parents expect them to be.
Yes, I do sympathise that children may not turn out to be what their parents had hoped their children would become. If the maturity in the parent can see that it is not the end of the world, then, parent and child would respectfully remain friends even though the most difficult crises that dog a lifetime of knowledge, experience, and relationships.

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