(Photo from left: Amanda, Katie, Lauren, Austin, Kumari, Lucien) Missing is Hope and Lance.
Parents get too much credit.
When people hear about my kids, oftentimes I hear some sort of praise for parenting. I DO have great kids. I am incredibly proud, blessed and am filled with gratitude.
My oldest, 21, majors in “Hospitality Management” and her third job in life is at a major hotel chain where she has racked up accolades from management, exceeding peers who already have degrees and years of experience beyond her. Her second job was with Disney, where she jumped with promotions very quickly. Her first job was as a receptionist at “Orlando’s Best” massage therapy practice, which focuses on medical clients, and she learned the ins and outs of dealing with an expectant public. She doesn’t drink; she hardly cusses. She always hung out with “the good kids.” Spends her paycheck paying her own tuition.
My middle kid works for a major theme park in retail, playing in a themed “role.” He’s been recognized by management for his generosity and kindness with guests, particularly children with special needs. One letter from management literally made me cry, after a parent wrote in with gratitude of how he made their child feel so important, treating her with great dignity and kindness. He majors in Paralegal Studies and he will, no doubt, serve people with legal needs with great passion one day. He too, uses his paycheck to travel and pay tuition. He hopes to backpack in Europe next summer.
My youngest child stays busy and tired with sports depending on the season. From soccer to cross-country to water polo, she is running, diving, kicking her way through high school. She has a busy social life but manages “As” in Honors classes. She has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up. I have never in her life gotten a negative comment from a teacher or coach about her, her performance or her attitude; only praise. She loves dresses, high heels and will run me ragged at a mall.
My two stepsons are 11 and 13. My role in raising them is limited since they have two other mothers who share parenting duties. I live with them half time, cook meals for them, clean up their dishes, and am watching them develop and make their own choices about sports, music, and first girlfriends. Star Wars was a recent first date. They are math whizzes. They probably don’t even realize how much so.
What I do not do is take credit for my kids’ success. My kids have been influenced by many things and people in their lives. Some of it was positive; some of it wasn’t. They have been raised most of their lives in a gay household by two women and not the same two. In other words, they lived through two breakups — that of their biological mother and father and my first partner and I.
There have been teachers, some good and some not-so-good. There were the houses of friends, they spent many nights at, being treated as “one of their own,” while they were there. Those parents know who they are.
Their own father left and never came back when they were young and extended family was jerked out of their life when I came out of the closet many years ago. The youngest child doesn’t even remember them.
The cul-de-sac they grew up in welcomed them and our gay family with open arms, loving us all like good neighbors and friends would and should. Some kids at school quizzed them about “where they came from” since they had two moms or used gay slurs in the hallways, and one church youth group my oldest attended had the audacity to teach that gays were “sinners” that God disapproved of them, when she was only 13 years old. That was awkward.
Bosses at varying jobs have taught discipline, work ethic, integrity, and showed the way to success.
The extended family of my mates, i.e. inlaws through the years have done things like teach them the ways of fine dining.
Grandparents have been kind, generous givers, showing them who is still there no matter what.
And at the end of all of this, kids make choices. They are autonomous people. We as parents don’t get to “take credit” for them and their successes. THEY get to do that. They are successful because they listened and gleaned the right stuff at the right time.
When they heard the slur in the hallway, they didn’t start a fight. When the youth minister said gays were sinners, they didn’t stand up and say, “You sir, are an inconsiderate jerk.” When their extended family didn’t want anything to do with their gay family, they didn’t hate. They, instead, felt sorry for them, because their world was made so small for them.
When things weren’t progressing at a job, instead of staying and doing crappy work, they looked for a different job and found gratitude in all they learned at that one.
Instead of drowning in depression over parental relationship problems, they talked to each other.
I can’t take credit for that. Their success is their own.
And likewise, if your child is making poor choices in life, that is also not a parent’s “fault.” Our children are people who are able to make choices and whatever choices they make are theirs and they get to have those decisions as their own to have.
So, I don’t get to steal my kids’ successes for my parenting glory. Nor do I have to carry a stigma if a kid makes the wrong one. I am fortunate that mine are making good ones and have joy in watching them grow the proverbial wings, but if yours aren’t, don’t blame yourself.