The father of a young man who I represented the other day was upset with me because his son’s court hearing didn’t go as well as he would have liked. I usually have a pretty good idea when I missed on something and could do better and am often a little harsh with myself in my self-assessment. This wasn’t one of those times. The young man had some significant issues and while I believe I was an effective advocate, there was no rabbit to pull out of the hat.
The father’s frustration subsided and we talked it through and I’m not so sure that his reaction was anything less than normal. We want to take care of our children, we want to protect them. We want them to succeed and avoid the pain of failure. When they experience the things that are contrary to those desires, the frustration often spills out and some of it can be more about us than them.
A good friend of mine has four children which are raised an out of the house. I complimented him one time on how great his kids are; how they reflect a great job of parenting by him and his wife. He said, “it’s because I don’t care.” Now, I know him to be very wise and a loving father so I waited and he went on to explain. “Of course I love them and want the best for them, but I don’t own it when they mess it up. It’s their deal, not mine. That frees up the relationship from unnecessary pressures and allows me to walk with them through their mistakes.”
That’s really a very insightful statement. Keeping our identity separate from our the behavior of our children and allowing them to experience the trials of life to grow in their own wisdom. I think he’s onto something. A common ground of family dysfunction where there is addiction and/or drug use often includes an unnatural priority of the comfort and well-being of the child. The consequences of the child’s decisions are actually a benefit to the child, not a detriment.
Not an easy proposition for most of us and not always easy to discern the fine line between parental oversight which will include legitimate protection vs. a “little prince” syndrome. There is likely no way to pull it off perfectly and little hope of getting close if we’re not prepared for the leadership which is required through a firm understanding of our own identity. That identity without Foundation won’t be likely and that Foundation allows for progression through life leading to the point of a posture to lead.