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Your Children Are Not Your Children

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. ~Kahlil Gibran.

I’ve never confessed this to anyone before but I think it’s about time. I am a closet reader of Dear Abbey. No, I don’t read the column in the closet. I typically read the column between the sheets, in those moments between waking up and getting out of bed right after I read the daily Dilbert and just before I check the news on Zite from my iPad or iPhone.

I don’t read Dear Abbey for the advice she bestows on people who, by their questions, alert the world to their alarming lack of common sense. I read the column purely for the entertainment value. My favorite columns move along the line of;

My boyfriend is the most loving man in the entire world and he is absolutely perfect for me but, there is a small problem that has me concerned and I don’t know what to do. He drinks a lot and cannot hold a job because he shows up for work drunk. He gambles away the money I earn from working two jobs which makes it hard to pay the bills. What should I do?

I wish, just once, she would just tell the person to get a crowbar, extract their head from deep up their butt, dump the idiot and get on with life. How these people grew up without any common sense is something I can only blame on their parents. Today’s column, a rebuttal from an older column, helped solidify the lousy parenting theory in my mind.

In the column, I encountered a mom who freaks out because her college age daughter won’t return her text messages. Here is the column in question from 26Jun2012:

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, “Tammi,” is attending college in a neighboring state. When I text or call her, she doesn’t respond. I have asked her to please just text me back saying she’s OK. She says my texting her once a day is “overkill” and I should stop doing it so often — once a week is often enough. I feel it is disrespectful of Tammi not to respond to my texts, even with a simple “OK” or “fine.” She texts her friends all the time, so I don’t think five seconds is too much to ask of her.I’m willing to compromise and text Tammi every other day or every three days. She is my only child and I want to know that she is well. Am I being unrealistic or asking too much? — TAMMI’S MOM IN NEW JERSEY

My comment would have been. Hey Tammi’s Mom…get a life. The end product of having children is to grow them into fully functional, INDEPENDENT adults. Kids are not there to make you feel better, not there for you to hover over and ‘protect’ from the boogie man. Face facts, you can’t protect your kids from injury especially when they are away at college becoming adults. Answering your texts is not going to prevent harm. You only want contact to assuage your own anxiety not to help your children become an adult. If you have not prepared them o be independent by the time they have entered college then you have FAILED as a parent.

Another parent commented that I pay the cell phone bill so I better get a call or I’m going to cancel the phone. Please! You job pays you the money so you can afford the phone. Should you be required to call them back when not at work? Should you be required to let them view your Facebook account because they pay you the money for your internet access?  If you need to force your child to call then you too have FAILED as a parent. Forcing your kid to call will also push them away emotionally which is just the opposite of the closeness you seek.

When my daughter went away to college, she encountered other students who came in clueless as how to wash their own clothes or cook a meal that required more skill than microwaving a bowl of water and dumping in raman noodles. Some of them were even challenged at boiling the water.  She was shocked by the complete lack of life skills these kids learned growing up. I was more shocked that parent’s could have so FAILED the children the were blessed with by not teaching these basic skills.

True love for your children is not hovering over your children and doing everything for them. True love for your children is growing them into INDEPENDENT human beings so they can realize the potential of who they were born to be not who you hope they will be.

My children learned to wash their own clothes by the age of 12. By that time, they were also able to cook basics. By the time they finished High School, they were prepared to live as independent adults and did so while attending college.

While they were in college, I received phone calls not because I threatened to cut off their phones but because I had invested the time necessary to build a strong relationship with them, a relationship that helped them move from youth into a functional adult hood and they wanted to talk to me. I didn’t get calls every day or every week and I was ok with that because I knew I had done my job well enough to  ensure they were functionally adults and had the ability to survive on their own.

To those parents that whine about their kids not calling or feel compelled to manipulate them into calling. While they were growing up, you would have been better off helping them become adults instead of kissing their butts until they went off to college. It’s time you understand the reason your kids are not calling and you are freaking out about the lack of contact is because, as parents, you have FAILED in your fundamental duty as parents.


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