I try not to be a judge-y parent, I really do. That’s why I write this blog, after all: to remind other parents that it is OK to not be perfect, and that we are all really just doing the best that we can. But the other day, I just couldn’t help myself.
A few days ago my husband and I attended a parenting workshop called “Managing Challenging Behaviours”. It was the only one available out of a handful of workshops that I really wanted to attend, including, “The Explosive Child”, “Taming Tempers”, and “Managing Conflict” (unfortunately, the “How a Glass a Day of Wine Will Make You a Better Mom” class was full…but I am taking it as a distance ed course as we speak). We definitely deal with some challenging behaviours at home, and I hoped that we could not only learn some strategies, but commiserate with fellow weary, helpless parents at the same time.
And, for the most part, it was a decent experience. There were a lot of parents in there who needed help just like us, and we got some useful information. But, in a room full of parents who were going through divorces, struggling to parent children with eating disorders, and singlehandedly parenting several young children alone, the couple sitting next to us stood out. While Mike and I talked about the challenges of parenting a child who is explosive and violent at times, they interjected that they had a hard time because their child complained while practicing piano for a full hour a day. While the man behind us talked about not having a relationship with his depressed teenage son, they brought up an incident where their son wanted more Pokémon cards even though they just bought him some. And after a single father of two small kids talked about his struggles with discipline, the wife said the following: I know…I mean, sometimes it just seems like my son doesn’t appreciate what I do for him.
That statement made my blood boil. Here we were, really struggling with how to deal with some significant behaviour issues and this couple was upset because their eight-year-old doesn’t APPRECIATE them?! Are you kidding me?
No kid appreciates their parents. And if you’re doing this parenting thing for appreciation, you’re in the wrong business. It is by far the most difficult, stressful, frustrating, and unappreciated job on this planet. I have no interest in being appreciated by my kids. In fact, it isn’t their job to appreciate me. Their job is to be kids…to play, and learn, and love, and make mistakes. And to know that my husband and I will always be there to catch them when they fall, hug them when they are sad, and support them every step of the way. Period.
We may not be the perfect parents. Actually, I am certain we aren’t. But I know that we are doing the best that we can. Our kids might not notice right now, or even when they grow up (I am convinced that all kids end up on a psychologist’s couch blaming their parents for some wrongdoing eventually), but I honestly don’t care. I get so much joy out of watching them grow into these interesting, loving, wonderful beings that any amount of appreciation from them is meaningless. In fact, their mere existence is really all the “atta girl” that I need.